A poem for Mother’s Day

Billy Collins’ latest book, Aimless Love, is the first collection of poetry that I ever read willingly.  As in, no one assigned it.  No paper was written, no analysis was dragged from the text.  Try it sometime, you might just be a poetry lover.  He posted this on Facebook today and encouraged sharing.  Enjoy!

THE LANYARD

by Billy Collins

The other day as 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.

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Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings by Margarita Engle

Margarita Engle’s lyrical writing transports the reader to the days of the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Seen through the eyes of her memory w can see how deeply Cuban-American were, and still are affected by this standoff.

Source:  ARC

Publication date: August, 2014

Read Harder Challenge Tasks:

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

This is definitely NOT a school shooter book, in case that was keeping readers away. It is a sad, sad book with a slow pace. It’s also a beautifully written book that weaves poetry into the narrative. Mature behavior on the part of Emily and Paul make this a high school pick.

Source: public library