Maybe the Rosemary

Time to write about religion now,
after buying bananas and escarole,
after passing up a rosemary plant
that was blooming, which I have
never seen, which sent me on a
whole series of associations
(gardens, my mother, whose name
was Rosemary; she was a pilgrim
in the garden, always a transplant
and always seeking something—
blooming vigor, a pleasant surprise
brought about by her own two hands:
Oops! Look at that—this thing I have
tended, not even knowing for sure what
it was, is now exploding in splendor.)
But anyway, I was buying onions
and carrots, basil and bread,
showing Betty, my daughter,
how the eggs we buy are cage free,
certified humane. I was cringing
at my ostentatiousness, how I
justify myself out loud, and my
children were fighting, mainly
Joseph, my son, relentlessly
needling Betty because he is
smaller and knows he is smaller.
They both got cookies anyway,
which I can’t justify except that
being smaller can be difficult,
and sometimes I am too tired
to mete out life lessons, so I
give out cookies freely and
allow cookies to be given.
Now I think maybe I’ll buy
that rosemary plant someday,
for a friend of mine who just
turned 50 and who watched
our goldfish this weekend
so he wouldn’t die, which
he likely wouldn’t have done
in three days’ time, but I felt
better with some eyes on him,
and precise instructions on
when to drop in his shelled peas,
cucumber slices. Maybe the
rosemary would grow on her deck
all summer, and she’d think of me—
perhaps even my mother, whom
she never met—each time she
stepped out to snip a sprig here
and there. Now I have to write
about what it is that I have faith in.
It’s everything I just told you, though
I’d like to add a number of things:
mainly James, my husband, across
from me at the table, and the birds
outside, singing in the gray.

For Open Link Night at dVerse Poets (aka “my Tuesday thing”).


31 thoughts on “Maybe the Rosemary

    • Thank you so much, Liesl! How kind of you to say that. I was challenged to write about faith/religion all this month, and what I’ve discovered is that I really do have some, even if I come to it through a side door. I knew I was agnostic, not atheist — but I didn’t know how strong the “well, maybe” part was.

      • I was just reflecting on this myself – the spirit is willing. I meander around the edges of so many thoughts and philosophies. I think I like it better that way!

  1. This is perhaps the most lovely meditation on religion I have ever read. It is so not about it, and because if that, so beautifully truly, righteously about it!

    Thank you!

  2. Pingback: All this Talk of Rosemary and Religion | Waffle Wednesday

  3. and sometimes I am too tired
    to mete out life lessons, so I
    give out cookies freely and
    allow cookies to be given.

    me too ditto…though I am not a parent of two. thanks for the lovely read.

  4. love the way the tangents form so naturally and organically here, really like a wave flowing between each “section,” creating individual partitions, that still keep hold of the overall poem’s connectivity. Very nicely done. Thanks

  5. Reblogged this on Jennifer Bullis and commented:
    Even though I’ve been negligent about posting lately, I have been catching up on my blog reading. During this week of holy days, one poem I keep going back to is my Chicago poet-friend Marilyn Cavicchia’s “Maybe the Rosemary.” In this piece, she sneaks up on the sacred in the shoes of her young children. She used that quietly brilliant stealth last week, too, in her magnificent poem “In the Beginning, There Was”–so please click back to her home page to enjoy that one, as well (I’m looking at *you*, Mr. Abu).

    Happy Passover, Happy Easter, peace to you, peace to all, “cage free.”

  6. Beautiful work, I loved the section about your children especially very charming

    My in-laws have a house in the country and they grow a lot of fruit and vegetables I love going there and picking produce fresh from the earth, it is like a meditation, and there is nothing that brings me a greater sense of gratitude, peace, or inspiration than nature.

  7. Pingback: All this Talk of Rosemary and Religion | Love.Sparks.Art

  8. Marilyn, I had to look for this poem today – my mother, Rose Marie, is in the process of dying. I call it the in between place. But your poem has stayed with me and gives me comfort today – just wanted you to know. Kathleen

  9. Oh, Kathleen, I’m so sorry. If this poem has brought you any comfort while you and your mother are in this in between place, then I am so honored and so grateful that you let me know. Rosemarys and Rose Maries are special … Did you know that “romaria” in Spanish means “pilgrim?” Wherever your mother is traveling to, I hope that her journey — and yours — is a peaceful one.

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