Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day Mom


"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.

Still miss you every day Mom.

3 comments:

Betty Grace said...

Love it.
Looking forward to book club. Finished the book over the weekend. Intriguing and a bit horrifying. I liked it.

L&H&Q said...

I'm familiar with this poem; it's so poignant. Love it. I hope yesterday wasn't a difficult day, full of memories. Only happinesses...

charrette said...

I LOVED seeing this picture of your mom, who I've idolized since time immemorial. At the opening reception of my first Utah Watercolor Society show (last fall) I found out that your amazing, soft-spoken mother was the FOUNDER and FIRST PRESIDENT. She was such a powerhouse in so many ways...cooking is another.

And that Lanyard lyric was GREAT...I'm going to go hunt that one down.

(The post about your dad was great, too.) He is still so much fun!

Love you!