Galway Kinnell

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
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

© 1980 by Galway Kinnell

Galway Kinnell is a former MacArthur Fellow and former State Poet of Vermont. In 1982, his Selected Poems won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He divides his time between New York City, where he is Erich Maria Remarque Professor of Creative Writing at New York University, and a home in Vermont. His most recent book is Imperfect Thirst (Houghton Mifflin). "Saint Francis and the Sow" was first published in Mortal Acts, Mortal Words (Houghton Mifflin).