A few years ago I sent my mother this on mother's day:
And I got this back:
Mother's Day was a bit depressig for me this year. I wish I would get to be a mother already! I miss you very much and I can't wait to see you in a few short weeks. I love you mamale! Happy Mother's Day!
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.
My dearest Maya,
I never heard of, tasted, smelled, fingered the texture of a “lanyard” but I would know how my heart would swell upon receiving the gift.
I never know what color the best lanyard should be or when they are best intertwined.
But I can picture a green summer afternoon with dragonflys and small fingers, braiding my guess of blues and orange, purples the color of wine.
I never was gifted a lanyard; were I, it probably would have gone to tie back my hair while I drip tub water on your back, lather soap bubbles on your chin.
I would have held it between my teeth to tickle your nose with to wake you up for milk and cookies. Would it have gone around my waist then (and not heavens NOW), I would have turned it into a sun-catcher, sequined, and dangling with crystal beads, to puzzle a fleeting winter cardinal. A lanyard MUST cross seasons, its colors a lifetime.
Most certainly, I would have hugged you in my delight at receiving my very own lanyard, handcrafted by the fingers I kiss, during a moment of (I deeply imagined, intense) homesickness.
My lanyard is you -- my precious gift on a late Spring day, many mother’s days ago.
Listen now, my Maya-le, my lanyard for you is the firmest belief that you, too, will be presented with one, braided with love and hope and the colors that come with its ripe season.
Keep loving, dear Maya, while awaiting your gift.
Carinosamente, mi amor,
How come we spent all that money for summer camps and I never got a friggin’ lanyard??? Thanks though for your lovely Mother's Day message. Be happy my love.
My dearest wish is that I can be to Lilah the mother that Pocketmom has been to me.