Image: “Relaxing” by Chris, licensed under CC 2.0.
Mary Buchinger: “how readily I assign holy” is part of a series of poems I’ve been writing during this time of COVID. This spring I’ve been on sabbatical—a time I’ve looked forward to for years, had so many plans for, a time to go deeply into my work, undistracted, unencumbered by the demands of teaching and service. Needless to say, this has not been the sabbatical I had dreamed of. Not being able to go out into the world, my home has become my available world. I feel fortunate to have a home, a partner, and two cats and a dog. I am not alone, and in this place of my home, there is shelter—physical, psychological, spiritual. The poems in this collection, tentatively entitled, In place, shelter, explore the intricacies of place. The body is the most immediate ‘place’ I inhabit and I’ve been observing the bodies of the other creatures that share my home, how we interact with each other and move about this narrow space. I’ve also been thinking about the Franciscan mystics, and the belief in the inherent dignity and equality of creatures. In this poem, I’m paying close attention to the feeling of my dog’s weight against my legs as she busily grooms herself. She is her own contained being, putting the tenderness of her mouth and tongue to work as she cleans her paws. The connection I feel as I consider how bodies are equipped for the world, how what is most tender is also most vulnerable, strikes me as sacred.