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MARGE PIERCY is the author of nineteen previous poetry collections, a memoir, seventeen novels, five nonfiction books, and a book of short stories. Her work has been translated into twenty-three languages, and she has received many honors, including the Golden Rose, the oldest poetry award in the country. She lives on Cape Cod with her husband, Ira Wood, the novelist, memoirist, community radio interviewer, and essayist, and their four cats. She has given readings, lectures, or workshops at more than five hundred venues in the U.S. and abroad.
The Art of Blessing the Dayfrom THE ART OF BLESSING THE DAYThis is the blessing for rain after drought:Come down, wash the air so it shimmers,a perfumed shawl of lavender chiffon.Let the parched leaves suckle and swell.Enter my skin, wash me for the littlechrysalis of sleep rocked in your plashing.In the morning the world is peeled to shining.This is the blessing for sun after long rain:Now everything shakes itself free and rises.The trees are bright as pushcart ices.Every last lily opens its satin thighs.The bees dance and roll in pollenand the cardinal at the top of the pinesings at full throttle, fountaining.This is the blessing for a ripe peach:This is luck made round. Frost can nipthe blossom, kill the bee. It can drop,a hard green useless nut. Brown fungus,the burrowing worm that coils in rot canblemish it and wind crush it on the ground.Yet this peach fills my mouth with juicy sun.This is the blessing for the first garden tomato:Those green boxes of tasteless acid the storesells in January, those red things with the savorof wet chalk, they mock your fragrant name.How fat and sweet you are weighing down my palm,warm as the flank of a cow in the sun.You are the savor of summer in a thin red skin.This is the blessing for a political victory:Although I shall not forget that thingswork in increments and epicycles and sometimeleaps that half the time fall back down,let’s not relinquish dancing while the musicfits into our hips and bounces our heels.We must never forget, pleasure is real as pain.The blessing for the return of a favorite cat,the blessing for love returned, for friends’return, for money received unexpected,the blessing for the rising of the bread,the sun, the oppressed. I am not sentimentalabout old men mumbling the Hebrew by rotewith no more feeling than one says gesundheit.But the discipline of blessings is to tasteeach moment, the bitter, the sour, the sweetand the salty, and be glad for what does nothurt. The art is in compressing attentionto each little and big blossom of the treeof life, to let the tongue sing each fruit,its savor, its aroma and its use.Attention is love, what we must givechildren, mothers, fathers, pets,our friends, the news, the woes of others.What we want to change we curse and thenpick up a tool. Bless whatever you canwith eyes and hands and tongue. If youcan’t bless it, get ready to make it new.————————————————————————Excerpted from The Art of Blessing the Day by Marge Piercy. Copyright© 1999 by Marge Piercy. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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