United States, (b. 1927)
Saint Francis And The Sow
- The bud
- stands for all things,
- even for those things that don’t flower,
- for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
- though sometimes it is necessary
- to reteach a thing its loveliness,
- to put a hand on its brow
- of the flower
- and retell it in words and in touch
- it is lovely
- until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
- as Saint Francis
- put his hand on the creased forehead
- of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
- blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
- began remembering all down her thick length,
- from the earthen snout all the way
- through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
- from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
- down through the great broken heart
- to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
- from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths
- sucking and blowing beneath them:
- the long, perfect loveliness of sow.
The Sow Piglet’s Escapes
- When the little sow piglet squirmed free,
- Gus and I ran her all the way down to the swamp
- and lunged and floundered and fell full-length
- on our bellies stretching for her, and got her,
- and lay there, all three shining with swamp slime,
- she yelping, I laughing, Gus gasping and gasping.
- It was then I knew he would die soon.
- She made her second escape on the one day
- when she was big enough to dig an escape hole
- and still small enough to squeeze through it.
- Every day I took a bucket of meal up to her plot
- of rooted-up ground in the woods, until
- one day there she stood, waiting for me,
- the wild beast evidently all mealed out of her.
- She trotted over and let me stroke her back
- and, dribbling corn down her chin, put up her little worried face
- as if to remind me not to forget to recapture her,
- though, really, a pig’s special alertness to death
- ought to have told her: in Sheffield the dolce vita
- leads to the Lyndonville butcher. When I seized her
- she wriggled hard and cried oui oui oui all the way home.
About the Poet
Galway Kinnell, (b. 1927), US poet, studied at Princeton University and the University of Rochester. He has published more than eight volumes of poetry as well as translations of works by Bonnefroy, Goll, Villon, and Rilke.
Now retired, Kinnell was also the Erich Maria Remarque Professor of Creative Writing at New York University and a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets. [DES-6/03]