Home/Blessing of The Animals


“May all the beings in all the worlds be peaceful and happy.”
—Vedantic prayer

She may have been overdressed
for Holy Saturday on Olvera Street,
adorned, as she was,
in tie-dye, pink roses, and white chiffon,
but at home she slept in a
flower-decked shrine to the Sacred Mother,
and this was one devout chihuahua
you would think was more than ready
for the Blessing of the Animals.
She expected, most likely,
a fine mist of Holy Water
sprinkling memories of heaven,
a vision held collectively
by the pig in the lavender frock,
the tortoises, parrots, ponies, chinchillas,
the goldfish in a jar held aloft by a watchful boy,
the ashes of dearly departed creatures
clutched in urns by Oaxacan widows,
and, most fervently of all, by one radiant cow,
leading all the diverse procession
with a yellow carnation cross
and a promise of resurrection.
Yet all good photographs are born in contrast,
which is why we are now iconic,
Getty Images of the blessing
for China, Utah, and points beyond.
Cardinal Mahony is generous with Holy Water.
Serenaded by Mariachis, we were baptized with a torrent.
The pious chihuahua, now cradled in my arms,
unintentionally flinched and braced against the soaking,
while I, furless, featherless,
water-blind in clip-on shades,
elated, rose to meet it like a wave.