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to catch a blessing

by W.E.R. La Farge

first, make a mind
only a mind catches a blessing

to make a mind, send out letters
put word in the papers
call friends, paste posters
or tape them to the windows of restaurants
let people come to a place
a place where a blessing is waiting

there is in every place a blessing
going round & round
waiting for the circle of lives

in a city, let people come down tired streets
to a square, to a park
a cracked playground, a common garden
when enough have crowded together
on the tortured grass, on the sad asphalt
mind will strike its spark
& a joy no one understands
will crackle in the dog-stained streets

one alone can not catch a blessing
blessings need circuits
two alone can barely bless
sometimes an irrepressible loose blessing
eddies through their bodies
knocking them prone
to the closing of lives

in the country, people come in old cars
which are parked close together
in the corners of fields
the cars are not mind
though they huddle all day long
with their windows unslid, their gaping trunks
they will never add up
they will never be more than they are
blind wires
unpacked rusty husks

but the people
the people they serve, who leave them here
their people will add up

they have come for the feel of the slide
of jokes, the little rough knots tied
to the ends of stories, the whiz
of information: to be strung
like crystals on brightly-colored meanings

they come to it as to a feast
they bring delicious food & drink
adding up is ravenous work

there is an old blessing in that place
a blessing which has been there always
going round & round, riding lives
sometimes the blessing rests
in winter it sleeps & goes slow
on warm days quickens & groans in the ice
in spring it enters the wings of blue moths
the stagger of bats
the rising of the winged & the slithering mind
new notes of birds press pinholes in the sky
fresh blessing falls & is taken up
in the circle of swallows

yet always the ancient blessing, wise
is waiting, watching

when people get out of their cars
their first words open alleys in the air
sticks to the syllables, slides into the ears
other circuits are made by the joining of eyes
the blessing slips in with the looking
it covers food like a frosting
drawn in to the bodies of all
it goes round & round, mounting voices
leaping & arcing, gathering charge
careening through kisses, the touch
of hands, holes made by laughter
in the walls between lives, until its speed
starts rhythm, the people get out
their instruments & the blessing rides their songs

then indeed the people know
that what they are has been taken up
by something like music, something like witness
whose mass & volume flood their voices
overflow their eyes, leak out the small
holes in flutes, something the drum
shakes down on their lives from trees
they know they have been blessed
they know the hidden channels through the life
of all have been polished by something
whose rapid passage honed their hearts
& when they leave, in twos, in threes
still echoes in their heads with a silver hum

some blessing sticks
bangs around the quiet of dark cars

the rest remains
& when the swallows are finished their sweeps
when the bats sleep
alone in the old pasture
the inexhaustible blessing
circles in a blue light

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