Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March 31: Gratefulness, Billy Collins, "The Lanyard"

I am trying to be grateful tonight.

I did not have a great day at work.  But I have a job.  I am grateful.

I didn't have a great lunch or dinner.  Left-over casserole with macaroni and cheese, spam, and peas.  But I had food to eat.  I am grateful.

I won't see my son tonight.  He'll be in bed by the time I get home.  Sometimes I feel like I'm missing his childhood.  But he's a healthy, smart boy.  This morning, he kissed me and said, "I love you, daddy."  I am grateful.

I have to go to church tonight to meet with my priest.  We're hashing out the details of the upcoming Easter masses.  It's late.  I'm tired.  But I have a God who loves me, despite my shortcomings.  I am grateful.

I have never written a poem as good as Billy Collins' "The Lanyard."  But Billy Collins did.  I am grateful.

Saint Marty is a happy man.

The Lanyard

by:  Billy Collins

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.

I am grateful for all the lanyards of my life

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