Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Does July Remind You of Summer Camp?

I missed Muse Day! I dislike missing Muse Day. I always intend to post on Muse Day....
So, I'm going to post today. :-)

(2008 family reunion)

I've become a Billy Collins fan.
Billy Collins is the author of seven collections of poetry.
He is a Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York, he was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 - 2003. He has also served as the Poet Laureate of new York State.

I've taken the following poem from
The Trouble With POETRY and Other Poems,
Random House, New York, 2005



The Lanyard

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.



(My cousin's pond)


Muse Day post - late.
See Carolyn Gail at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago
to read all the timely posts! :-)

10 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I am so glad you posted this poem. I am not familiar with this poet. I will have to look him up. I like this particular poem. Haven't we all done something like this?? Thought those very things. However at the time we thought these gifts were adequate.

Frances said...

With tearful eyes, I too thank you for posting this magnificent work. Truly amazing.

Frances

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

What a wonderful poem! I'm glad you posted it :)

Rosey Pollen said...

It is for this reason, I cannot bear to throw away the gifts my kids create for me. I am such a sap. I still have cards they made when they were 2.
Thanks for sharing this poem. I am going to look into more of this author.
Rosey

Shady Gardener said...

Lisa, Frances, Catherine, Rosey Pollen, Perhaps from the child's point of view, perhaps from the mother's point of view, and/or perhaps from both points - we can identify with this poem.

I know you will appreciate reading more of his poetry. I will probably look for an occasion to post another. :-)

Commonweeder said...

This is a wonderful poem. Also, I think we should enjoy the muses every day! No question about late.

Shady Gardener said...

Commonweeder, I agree! ;-) Thanks for your visit.

Gail said...

Dear Shady, What a wonderful poem~~every gift my son gave me was precious (I still have many of the homemade ones tucked away) and filled my heart with so much love. The pond in your cousins garden is delicious! gail

Bren said...

Funny you should say Summer Camp and July. I was just resting on the porch admiring the garden thinking about summer camp sounds and scents as a child.

Your pond photo you share is wonderful. I wish we could have koe in our pond but the catfish would eat them!

That quilt is amazing. I have always wanted to do a project like that. I will have to check out your link.

Happy Summer - continue to enjoy it because it goes by so very fast.

Shady Gardener said...

Hi Gail! I understand completely about keeping the homemade items made by your child(ren)! I have kept a lot of them, too. :-)

Wouldn't it be fun to have a pond like that? We don't have room, but I'm hoping to put in my little one before too very long.

Hi Bren, Thank you for your visit, too! Did you ever make your mom a lanyard? ;-) Isn't it wonderful to be able to sit outdoors and have special memories come to mind?

Believe it or not, the quilt is not yet finished. My friend Lori and I have decided to set a date sometime this summer (a whole day) to get it finished!! (at least the top). I hope we do, as it's such a pretty quilt. Do you have an area quilt shop that teaches quilting? That's how I began (I still consider myself a beginner!).

I will wish for you the same... enjoy your summer because it IS going quickly! :-)