Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sunday Morning Poetry

The Lanyard

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

~ Billy Collins

A blessing on you all, my friends.

You can listen to Billy Collins reading this week's poem here. If you haven't already, please click on my blessing for you.


Patti said...

What a beautiful poem Relyn and so very perfect for today. I love ALL my "lanyards" and those are the most cherished gifts ever! Have a wonderful day!

Jeanne said...

Happy Mother's Day
Love Jeanne♥

I love all you share.
Love you

Tracy said...

Oh, how wonderful! It take me back all the years of gifts for my Momma. :o) Wishing the sweetest Mother's Day, Relyn ((HUGS))

Tracy said...

This is beautiful. I've never seen or heard it before. Happy Mother's Day!

Anonymous said...

beautiful words. happy mothers day

Char said...

lovely thoughts

hope you have a beautiful day

Marilyn said...

Perfectly said! Happy Mother's Day.

Shaista (Lupus in Flight) said...

What an incredible poet Billy Collins is - just so skillful.
Happy Mother's Day, Relyn :)

TheEccentricLady said...

OH My! What a great poem. I remember making landyards at camp! How so insufficent a gift for all our Mom's have given up for us but the love behind the gift (even if the child doesn't know it yet) speeks volumes. We Moms love anything given to us from our children.
Visit my blog to see what my wonderful 1st born gave me today!
Have a great day Relyn

S. Etole said...

I did that at camp one year ... isn't it wonderful that Moms see the heart?

TheChicGeek said...

Beautiful, Relyn, just like you.
Happy Mother's Day Sweetie :)

Gayle said...

How beautiful!

Happy Mother's Day!

SE'LAH... said...

poetry on a special day.

Happy Mother's Day!

Terresa said...

A lovely Collins poem. I'll never think of lanyards again quite the same way. :)

Happy Mother's day.

Anonymous said...

this poem is so touching!

elizabeth said...

I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day!

I love the blues in this photo.

Anonymous said...

Sweet thoughts. I'm sure your mother cherished the lanyard. (I don't know what it is either.) I imagine the experience of making it is what made you happy.

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

There are times when I read poetry and I don't "get" it, but I just like the feel of the words rolling around my tongue. This...I get, and I love it.

I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day.

Derrick said...

Hi Relyn,

I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day. I have never made a lanyard, for my mother or anyone else, but all manner of equally useless and beautiful things!

emmah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gkgirl said...


this was fantastic.

i want to write it out
and put it
on my fridge.


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