KEEPING OUR SMALL BOAT AFLOAT
robert bly, former poet laureate of minnesota
So many blessings have been given to us
During the first distribution of light, that we are
Admired in a thousand galaxies for our grief.
Don’t expect us to appreciate creation or to
Avoid mistakes. Each of us is a latecomer
To the earth, picking up wood for the fire.
Every night another beam of light slips out
From the oyster’s closed eye. So don’t give up hope
that the door of mercy may still be open.
Seth and Shem, tell me, are you still grieving
Over the spark of light that descended with no
Defender near into the Egypt of Mary’s womb?
It’s hard to grasp how much generosity
Is involved in letting us go on breathing,
When we contribute nothing valuable but our grief.
Each of us deserves to be forgiven, if only for
Our persistence in keeping our small boat afloat
When so many have gone down in the storm.