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Just the Right Book with Roxanne Coady

Just the Right Book is a podcast hosted by Roxanne Coady, owner of famous independent bookstore R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, CT, that will help you discover new and note-worthy books in all genres, give you unique insights into your favorite authors, and bring you up to date with what’s happening in the literary world.
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May 12, 2017

 

Just the Right Book Podcast is celebrating Mother's Day with one of Roxanne's favorite Mother's Day poems. In this very special Tidbit, Roxanne reads The Lanyard by Billy Collins

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The Lanyard by 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-clothes on my forehead,
and then led me out into the air 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-toned 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.

 

More poetry by Billy Collins:

The Rain in Portugal: Poems by Billy Collins 

Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins

Horoscopes for the Dead by Billy Collins

Ballistics by Billy Collins

The Trouble with Poetry: And Other Poems by Billy Collins

Nine Horses: Poems by Billy Collins

Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins

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