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American Life in Poetry: Column 274

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Alicia Suskin Ostriker is one of our country’s finest poets. She lives in Princeton, New Jersey. I thought that today you might like to have us offer you a poem full of blessings.

The Blessing of the Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog

To be blessed
said the old woman
is to live and work
so hard
God’s love
washes right through you
like milk through a cow

To be blessed
said the dark red tulip
is to knock their eyes out
with the slug of lust
implied by
your up-ended skirt

To be blessed
said the dog
is to have a pinch
of God
inside you
and all the other
dogs can smell it

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “The Blessing of the Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog” from The Book of Seventy, by Alicia Suskin Ostriker, © 2009. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press. Introduction copyright © 2009 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.