Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

Every mother's day I tend to balance my general dislike for the Hallmark Holidays with my overwhelming love, thanks, and appreciation for my mom. My balance usually ends up with me calling her, something I should do more often. While in grad school I was lucky enough to attend a poetry reading by then Poet Laureate Billy Collins. I like Billy Collins a great deal. One of my favorite poems of his is called "The Lanyard."

OK, time to connect the thoughts in the previous paragraph. As Apparent Dip's mother's day offering, I bring you "The Lanyard" by Billy Collins. You can hear him read this here, or on this excellent CD. As a copyright note, I am only putting the text up because NPR did, and I figure if NPR thinks it is OK, then so does Apparent Dip. I think most poems are best listened to, so check out the links above.

The Lanyard - by Billy Collins

The other day as I was ricocheting slowly
off the pale blue walls of this room,
bouncing from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
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 more suddenly into the past --
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid 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 sickroom,
lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips,
set 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 archaic truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hands,
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.


heather said...

I love Billy Collins! This is an excellent poem.

Interesting blog with some great photos.

Dairo said...

well have gone through your poem is great. keep it up.

but if you don't mind i get some thing to tell you about overcoming of health.

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