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The Seven of Pentacles by Marge Piercy

This week was the start of the Jewish High Holidays. Rosh Hashanah began on Wednesday at sundown, and my sweetheart and I were lucky to spend dinner with his maternal cousins in Pennsylvania. Last night was dinner in Ocean, NJ, with his cousins on his father's side. (I adore his relatives.) Yesterday morning and this morning, we attended services at our synagogue, where our rabbi put together his own afternoon service, full of additional readings. There was a lovely one from Annie Dillard, another from Rabindranath Tagore, and an excerpt from this one from the always wonderful Marge Piercy. (The reading began with the second stanza, "Connections are made slowly", which has been widely excerpted as best I can tell.)

The Seven of Pentacles
by Marge Piercy

Under a sky the color of pea soup
she is looking at her work growing away there
actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beans
as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.
If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,
if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,
if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,
if the praying mantis comes and the ladybugs and the bees,
then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.

Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half the tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.

Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: Make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us
interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.

Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,
for every gardener knows that after the digging, after the planting,
after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.

Is that not lovely? And perfect for this season? And (as excerpted) perfect for the holiday?

If you are wondering about the poem's title (or inspiration), it's based on the Tarot card for the seven of pentacles or coins, which typically depicts a gardener leaning on a tool and observing their garden.

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