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  • Celia Jenkins

NaPoWriMo 2024 - Day 5

Prompt: Today we’d like you to start by taking a look at Alicia Ostriker’s poem, “The Blessing of the Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog.” Now try your hand at writing your own poem about how a pair or trio very different things would perceive of a blessing or, alternatively, how these very different things would think of something else (luck, grief, happiness, etc).

The Simple Things

To be blessed

said the child

is to have your mother

close by,

soft arms to hold you,

catch you,

kisses planted

on the top

of your head

like seeds,

watered with love,

to grow,


To be blessed

said the mother

is to have a moment

to yourself

just one fucking moment,

just a minute

to pee alone

to do anything

or go anywhere

by myself.

I'm so overwhelmed,


for love of you have a dream

and reach for mountaintops

a career?

when? where?

perhaps I'll find it

at the bottom

of the laundry basket,

perhaps when I've tidied

all the dollies and blocks

the mismatched puzzle pieces

I'll remember who I am

and who I wanted to be.

To be blessed

said the voice from the deathbed

is to remember who you were

to someone else,

the soft touch of a tiny hand in yours,

the compassion in the squeeze of a friend's shoulder,

the kiss that lingered.

To be blessed is to gaze

beyond a hazy windowpane

and delight

whether the tree

boasts delicate blossoms

or flaming autumn hues,

and to know that this moment

will never come again.


Another prompt that I enjoyed delving into. I don't usually analyze my own poetry (that's for the reader to do!) but I do have a few thoughts on this one.

I deliberately thought about the structure of each stanza and the word choices. In the first stanza, the length is short and the sentence structure is simple to mirror the narrative voice. The final stanza offers a more introspective voice - wiser, with more poignant imagery, but not overly long. The middle stanza, with it's stream of consciousness, is the lengthiest.

The semantic field of nature is carried throughout, and we see repetitions of themes as well as key terms. The mismatched puzzle pieces allude to the mother's loss of self, the lack of direction, feeling out of place, trying to find a way to slot back into who she thought she was. While the middle stanza is, at it's core, about a narrator whose day-to-day existence is wholly wrapped up in another person, it's predominantly the first and third stanza narrators who vocalize their relationships. Anyway, just my thoughts. What do you take from this poem?

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