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A Funny Poem For Moms and Those Who Have Them: Guest Post By Gina G. Smith

Is It Words?

A Guest Post by Gina G. Smith

“Here, listen to this.” My husband said to me as we got in the car. The kids were with us and we had a ways to go.

Sigh. “Is it words?” I asked sarcastically. I love being part of his world, but if there’s one thing that puts me instantly to sleep, or sends me spiraling into a world of daydreams, it’s listening to audio books. He somehow listens to them while driving and going to sleep at night, which seems like a recipe for disaster to me. I just cannot focus when the reading begins. Come on, husband. Don’t you know me at all? I prefer music in the car.

He rolled his eyes and said, “Yes, it’s words. But just listen.”

It began and I got the distinct feeling this was a joke. Oh, no. This sounds like…like, Poetry? Doesn’t he know I’ve stormed the towers in the Unstoppable War Against Foes Both Foreign and Domestic (but mostly Domestic) All Day?

Poetry! Oh, dear. I’m drifting, drifting. But then…I giggle. I’m hooked. It was Billy Collins and it was brilliant.

Here’s one in particular that my mother’s heart could relate to. I’m posting the video (with the words below) so you can get the full effect. I think it’s a real treat to hear it read by the poet. Then you know exactly how it should sound. Actually, with Billy (I call him Billy), his poems are so simple that it’s hard to get them wrong. I love that. Who needs to pretend to be sophisticated?

Please enjoy this hilarious tribute to the vocation of Motherhood.

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.


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