And Now for Something Totally Different

Posted: January 28th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Discoveries | 3 Comments »

I’ve actually gotten to two yoga classes recently. They were rejuvenating, indulgent, and blissful. The three-block walks to and from the studio in the chilly evening air even had a delicious soulfulness.

I know. I need to get out more.

And aside from the discovery that I was expecting (i.e. that I was expecting to discover, that is. No, I’m not pregnant!)–that I do need to find a way to get some form of regular exercise and/or Me Time–I also had an unexpected discovery. Poetry.

Now, I’ve been outspoken and unapologetic for many years about my disdain for poetry. But the handsome used-to-be-a-doctor yoga instructor read a poem at the end of each of the classes. Both were by Billy Collins, who he said used to be the U.S. Poet Laureate in 2002 or so. (Who knew?)

Both poems were wildly imaginative, unexpected, fun. Just brilliant really. Nothing like the crap I remember ruefully slogging through and painfully deconstructing in school.

Made me think I may just like some poetry after all.

So I go to the guy’s website tonight, because sometimes it’s fun to go somewhere other than Amazon for book-related info, and hell if there were some poems right there for the readin’. This was the first one (and only one thus far) I read. It’s quite different from the Cute Yoga Dude’s picks, but it still totally worked for me.

Although I never went to sleepover camp (one of my childhood’s tragic voids, along with not having seen Star Wars), the Mama-ness of it made it seem like a fitting first poem for me to stumble across.

Whaddaya think?

The Lanyard – 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.


3 Comments on “And Now for Something Totally Different”

  1. 1 Drea said at 4:34 am on January 30th, 2009:

    I’ll have to try to process the poetry later in the day. I got to paragraph 3 and thought you had discovered you were expecting. I clearly need some caffeine before going further.

  2. 2 Megan K. said at 7:30 am on January 30th, 2009:

    I had to re-read that part twice as well. :)

  3. 3 kristen said at 10:19 am on January 30th, 2009:

    hilarious. hadn’t even caught that. happy you all are paying attention!

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