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

Selected by Debie Thomas

Alicia Suskin Ostriker

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.

Poet, critic, and activist Alicia Ostriker was born in 1937 in New York City. She earned degrees from Brandeis and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Twice a finalist for the National Book Award, Ostriker has published numerous volumes of poetry, including Waiting for the Light (2017), which awarded the Berru Award from the Jewish Book Council, and The Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog (2014), The Book of Seventy (2009), which received the Jewish National Book Award. Ostriker has received awards and fellowships from the NEA, the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations, the Poetry Society of America, and the San Francisco State Poetry Center, among others. In 2015 she was elected Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She has taught in the low-residency Poetry MFA program of Drew University and New England College. She lives in Princeton, NJ, is professor emerita of English at Rutgers University.

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