Laura & Caleb

00090010

the lanyard

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.

by billy collins

laura and scott of wallflower photography are our friends and fellow photographers. last year was a big one for them with caleb joining their family. love seeing how other woman balance motherhood with their photography. laura seems to be a natural. in order to stay home a bit more with the babe she is focusing on baby portraits, check out her new studio and site bump & bambino. the poem above was discovered through alison morris who wrote this insightful post about good poems to read at weddings.