Issue > Poetry
Michael Blumenthal

Michael Blumenthal

Michael Blumenthal's seventh book of poems, And, was published by BOA Editions in 2009. He is also the author of the memoir All My Mothers and Fathers, the novel Weinstock Among The Dying, and a collection of essays from Central Europe, When History Enters The House. He is currently a Visiting Professor of Law at West Virginia University's College of Law.


The man whose ancestral home has just burned to the ground
in San Bruno, California, taking with it all his possessions
and family memorabilia, says he is blessed to have found
such good friends and neighbors to take him in, blessed
that his wife and children have survived with him, he says
he is blessed the way a man who has just given up
his spare kidney feels blessed to have helped a stranger,
the way those thirty-three Chilean miners, just up from
their sixty-nine days within the earth's blackened underbelly
say they are blessed to see daylight once again, just as
most of us, even without saying so, are blessed, as I am,
this very moment, to receive a postcard from U.S. Army
Captain Scott M. Pastor, informing me that my son has arrived
safely at Fort Leonard Wood—Whoever would have thought
I'd be grateful, even, for that? Yet who isn't among the blessed,
who can still sleep easily amid the splotched splendors
of the quotidian world—like those 4,500 poor "sufferers"
aboard the Carnival Cruise Line, sentenced to five days
of flown-in Spam and crabmeat and the scent of freshly
rotting vegetables? So much true suffering on this earth,
so many without the balm of other bodies and the
beneficence of breathable air, who have lost the dice-roll
of sperm and egg, or come up with the two of clubs
and three of diamonds on the blackjack table of this life,
down to their final two chips and free drink before
the time comes to face the cashier again. Easily the fall air
of West Virginia enters my lungs, easily the day descends
into the solace of sleep and pillows, the lex loci dilecti
of misdeeds and small miracles. Grace may not be merited,
friends, but nonetheless deserves to be praised, as I praise
it now, on this beautiful, unjust, splendiferous earth—
its blessed and bountiful beneficence bouldering down.