Alicia Ostriker: “The Blessing of the Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog”


The column below is reprinted by permission from American Life in Poetry, a project of the Poetry Foundation. Sign up for their free weekly e-newsletter here . I was enticed by the fairy-tale sound of this poem’s title, and then nourished by its deeply joyful and embodied spirituality.

American Life in Poetry: Column 274

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006
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, 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 ©2010 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.

2 comments on “Alicia Ostriker: “The Blessing of the Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog”

  1. Steve says:

    I liked this for its brevity and for the power of the words. I almost blushed at the tulip’s, they are so bald and naughty, and I have thought before hoe much tulips seem like sex. And the dog’s words – perfect (they would HAVE to be about the nose).

  2. Lexine says:

    Walking in the presence of giants here. Cool tkihning all around!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.