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Maureen Tolman Flannery

A Blessing on Irish Women

The blessing of soft wind be upon your mornings
and steadfast stars on your nights.
The blessing of generous rain
when your field complains and sun when it is sated.

A blessed sense of irony be upon you
to have you battle unfairness in other lives
and laugh at the ill that befalls your own.

The blessing of wild landscapes and calm waters.

The blessing of strong lungs be upon your children
and agile tongues that rest
in the presence of your shortcomings,
knees to bend easy at the pew
and lock at the slight of a tyrant.

The blessing of marriage be upon your sons
and fine, working men to be eyeing your daughters.

The blessings of straight shoulders above your back
a quick eye and a gentle heart
to the lacking of a hungry traveler.

The blessings of an early-closing publican
be upon your neighborhood,
a sober man with sweet breath upon your bed.

The blessings of forgetfulness be upon
your elders who have held a grudge
for longer than you can recall.

The blessing of a wise friend at all your confinement beds
and that Anam Chara* beside you when you die.


*Anam Chara is an Irish word meaning “soul friend.” It refers to the
tradition in Celtic villages where the midwife who ushered children
into the world was the same woman who keened souls across the
threshold of death at the wakes.