Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday Morning Poetry

summer flowers

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

Happy Mother's Day to all women, but especially to my own mother. Mom, I know we'll never be even.


Rita said...

Absolutely beautiful! I love you and your mother! Happy Mother's Day!

Scrappy Grams said...

I'm really weepy reading the different odes to individual mothers. My mom has been gone since 1973, but no one can take her place.
I think "paying it forward" has always been in place since we never can repay our moms for all that they did, and some still doing, for us. So naturally we paid it forward.
Happy mother's day to all mothers including those in Heaven!

JUST ME said...

Happy Mother's day RELYN!


Mrs. E said...

I'm having a weepy day anyway--and this!! What a beautiful poem! Much love on this Mother's Day! Thanks for sharing--keep the poetry coming!

Lubna said...

Happy Mother's Day. Thanks for this post.

Yiota said...

Happy Mother's Day, Relyn!
You're one of the most inspiring mums I know!

Georgianna said...

Happy Mother's Day, dear Relyn!!! xo

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

I hope you have a wonderful and peaceful Mother's Day! I loved this poem.

One Woman's Thoughts said...

You said it so well here.

spread your wings said...

Happy Mother's day Relyn

Char said...

happy mother's day!

Tracy said...

Billy Collins always says it so well! So glad for your Sunday Poetry, Relyn. Hope you're having a beautiful, love-filled Mother's Day weekend ((HUG))

amelia said...

True words--but aren't we lucky it's so!

Hope you had a fabulous Mother's Day!

Gayle at Planet M Files said...

Beautiful! I hope your Mother's Day was wonderful!

Meri said...

This is lovely, Relyn.

susanna said...

Good post! I hadn't read that before. Happy (belated) Mother's Day, Relyn!

Jeanie said...

This photo is simply astounding. And you're right -- I'll never be even with mine, either!

Muza-chan said...

Beautiful poem :)

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