Danielle Blau

(Blessed Are) They Who Preserve
April 24, 2022 Blau Danielle

(Blessed Are) They Who Preserve


These glass jars are houses for little Human Acts.
Lavender Rhubard, its sticky architecture, its late-afternoon stipple: the work of
Mrs. Blackwell (who right
now is dicing yams). Look, such tidy
avenues she’s paved across
her walls, it is a split
sea of jars, all
neatly named (Persimmon & Wild
Sumac Preserves, Candied Citron Pith, Green


Apple Ginger, Scuppernong, Cantaloupe, Grape). Ever since
her husband died, Mrs.
Blackwell (call her Mora) has
been afraid of flying, a disorder
named Aerophobia, says Dr. Ramirez—a real
shame because, this half-decade retired, Mora’s French
has much improved (Noémie at Parlons Français! tells her often) & wouldn’t it
be something else:
the trip, end of term,


to Toulouse. Still—she’ll eye you in
confidence, under a framed sketch of a parsley sprig—so
much to fill the time
: her Owlets (as she
calls the cats), her ceramic
sculpture class & in the evenings, who
would visit poor Lakshmi two floors up? Dear Lakshmi—like her, a widow, but
afraid of leaving home & chronic dyspnea &
her daughter, long
run off to Lord Knows Where.


Come, let us coo over each
other’s maladies, in the light of
the lampshade, where (softly) knocks a fly.


Susanna coos—Your little skin—through the Lamp-
Rimmed Ultra Magnifying Glass—Promise me no
more you pick your

pretty your little
. Be careful not
to mention the vials she’s stashed, free of charge, in your purse (Power Pore Vanishing
Daily Renewal Mist, Red Algae Face Polish, Wheat
Germ & Juniper Oil Avec Yuzu
Defense, Royal Fern Seed Time-Filler, Sage Perfect Purity Peel, Anti-


Aging Fig Leaf Mask) as the owner—Mr. M—has warned Susanna before, M-
Balm Beauty Solutions don’t grow on trees & just between us don’t you bet he’d can
her if not for her being so old? Old Susanna—one of two Einhorns of Szeged remaining (‘All
this world’s history is born of the races’ instinct for self-preservation. All
not of good race in this world are chaff’ & ‘Cherish your perfect blood’s own pureness! It
spells eternal life!’ went the thinking back then). The other—Béla Einhorn: at work (a White
Castle, Queens) when in walks his Zsazsa, his own little
Zsuzsanna, after eight years & yet still—still alive. They married that same month (June,
1949) but afraid what the offspring of cousins would be—My clients is my


babies—she’ll hunch over
the lamp-rimmed glass, stroking Sweet
Rose Root Milk on your cheek. (Let us coo.)


Over the 108 white minitiles of the bathroom floor, Paul
kneels—a weekly ritual since
leaving the Reverend his
father’s home for this place above the Chick Shack (‘FLAVORED
CHICKEN RINGS ARE    ACK’)—while, beside him, in a row, on a cloth
patterned with onion bulbs: the contents of the Immunotruth Kit he sent for in
the mail (Whole Blood Test Cassette, Desiccant Bag, Plastic Pipettes A & B, Developer
Fluid, Alcohol Pad, two Bandaids,
Lancet). Paul’s mother used to lilt, a watched


pot never boils—& that one (at least) feels pretty
much on point even still, always careful not to check till the full
time’s up, for the word on his fingerprick’s issue. The others (Plainsight Diagnostics, Anti-
body Reveal, Orasure HIV 1 & 2, Rapid Serum-Seer, HemoGenuine, Avert,
Ora•cular) have so far always all come
out the same (‘One line for Negative’) the same result the same
faulty result because, really, how could they know—in the flesh—what he
has only himself
begun to detect


within him
what shadows (growing,
growing) of what unspeakable fruit.


Mora will
clasp your hand
hard, when you say, well,
probably about time to get going, it’s late. Then—Yes
yes yes, of course—she’ll, smiling, gesture towards the special homemade jams & spreads
kept separate, as
gifts for her houseguests, on the shelf above
the coffee cups (‘ASK MY WIFE’ goes the writing on one, on another: ‘W


for Wall! Spell a More Perfect Union! Preserve Our Nation!’
behind that, an eggshell
blue mug—‘Ooh-la-la! C’est
magnifique!’ with little Arc de Triomphes). & once the clink of your jars (Lazy Apricot,
Plum) down
the block can no longer be heard from where (look) she is standing
so still—so perfectly, so unspeakably still—there on
her front screened-in porch right now, then
Mora—Mrs. Mora Blackwell—will


turn, lock
the door, dim the desk
lamp & softly (yes. Yes, softly) swat a fly.

Danielle Blau’s debut full-length poetry collection peep was selected by Vijay Seshadri for the 2021 Anthony Hecht Prize and was published in April of 2022 in both the US and the UK by the Waywiser Press. Her nonfiction book Rhyme or Reason: Poets and Philosophers on the Problem of Being Here Now is forthcoming from W.W. Norton.

Blau’s mere eye was selected for a Poetry Society of America Chapbook Award and published with an introduction by D.A. Powell, and her poems won first place in the multi-genre Narrative 30 Below Contest. Poetry, short stories, articles, and interviews by Blau appear in The Atlantic, Australian Book Review, The Baffler, The Literary Review, Narrative, The New Yorker’s book blog, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, The Saint Ann’s Review, several volumes of the Plume Anthology of Poetry, and elsewhere.

Her work has been set to music by composers of various stripes and performed in such venues as Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and Carnegie Hall. A graduate of Brown University with an honors degree in philosophy, and of New York University with an MFA in poetry, she curates and hosts the monthly Gavagai Music + Reading Series in Brooklyn, teaches at Hunter College in Manhattan, and lives with her son Kai in Queens.