Thursday, March 31, 2011


If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft,
And of thy meager store
Two loaves alone to thee are left,
Sell one and with the dole,
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.
                Sheikh Muslih-uddin Saadi Shirazi, circa 1270

My grandfather used to recite this poem.  Every now and then he would ask, "If you only have two loaves, what should you do with them?"  The astute grandchild would chirp, "Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul."  It only took one time to get caught unawares before you learned the poem. 

Last week felt as if we were indeed bereft of everything: one of my uncles is facing a diagnosis that has left us all shell-shocked.  Struggling out of my own fog, I saw the poem on our refrigerator, went to visit the hyacinths blooming in my front yard, and set to work. I can't cure my uncle, but maybe my little hyacinths can be a morsel for his soul.


1 comment:

  1. this is beautiful.

    just in time for National Poetry Month.

    poetry is life. really it is. the hand and heart lead us places.