Poetry Review: “A Blessing”, by James Wright

6 Nov
Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl’s wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.
Ahhh “A Blessing,” there’s something absolutely marvelous about this poem.   The sense of intention, of balance, just holds this poem up, like a tree.  The whole poem speaks of order, communion, and silence.    The things to pick up here is that spring is new here, that this is a place of rejuvenation.   The statement “There is no loneliness like theirs” pops out at first glance, because the kindly horses are together after all, but I take it as how happy they are to see their master, and how even together, they are alone.    These horses need people.   In turn, these people need horses–notice there are two of them as well–and they too may have been lonely together.   The delicate shy joy at recognition goes both ways here, and the tremendously intimate gesture of touching the horse’s ear (such a sensitive part of the body–tell me who would you let touch your ear?)   This action, this connection, quiet and simple, brings the greatest bit of joy, the part that makes the soul break into blossom.   Lovely.

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