"The Lanyard"

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Boaz's picture
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"The Lanyard"


"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.



poem from Billy Collins' latest collection:

Or for the blind  or entirely lazy

a nice video  of a 10 year old  reciting it better than billy collins himself   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmO2B0W1KlQ&feature=related

::..For Vectrex ...   Whose thread  made me think about the lanyard I made for my mother at camp

       καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν


       Dc-fix diffuser film  >…  http://budgetlightforum.com/node/42208

Edited by: Boaz on 03/23/2011 - 08:33
Vectrex's picture
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Posts: 2778
Location: Gemany (according to my Black Cat)

So we need another category ...  "Lyrics about Gear for Flashlight Carriers" Wink

FlashPilot's picture
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Location: USA

Don't feel to bad Boaz. Your story was very touching.Undecided  In high school metal shop, I made my mother a meat tenderizer for a Christmas gift. Its nothing more than a huge aluminum mallet with a waffle pattern on the bludgeoning surface to "tenderize" a steak. It took 3 attempts to build a perfect example since we had to mold our pieces in a foundry before machining.

After watching her open the gift, I suddenly realized that she had absolutely no use for it around the kitchen. If our family had enjoyed calamari, the story would have had a happy ending.

It hung on the kitchen wall by its lanyard, looking more like a polished high tech surgical instrument than a kitchen implement. And there it stayed for many years. Yell

Last seen: 7 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 03/17/2011 - 01:20
Posts: 406
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada

Thanks for sharing that Boaz. I don't spend much time reading poetry, but every now and then I come across some meaningful and powerful stuff like this. Thing is you can't read it quickly, like we do everything else, but it's definitely worth the time. Good find. Tell your moms you love them!