"Writing is, of all arts, universally admitted to be that which is most useful to society.
It is the picture of the past, the regulator of the future, and the messenger of thought."
—Motto of the International Association of Master Penmen, Engravers, and Teachers of Handwriting
My mother passed last month after a long and mostly peaceful decline. My siblings and I are corresponding about an upcoming memorial service. Words have never seemed so inadequate and powerless. As with any great sacrifice or gift, there is really no way to express your gratitude. Billy Collins captures this perfectly in "The Lanyard" (yes, I am asking you to read another poem!–it's worth it):
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.
Buy mom a card and this book of poetry. Make a small effort on her great behalf.
Sat, May 4, 6:30pm: PJ Story Time with Norm Brecke
Sat, May 18, 4pm: Galen Longstreth, author of Yes, Let's
Thurs, May 30, 7:30pm: Open Book Club: The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin
Discover ten ways that by shopping local you help our community.
Friday, May 17th is Bike to Work day. We asked the experts at Mercer Island's independent bike shop, Veloce Velo, to tell us what we should be reading to get our pedals spinning.
Island Books hosts an open book club that meets the last Thursday of each month at 7:30pm. All are welcome to attend, and if you purchase your book here in the store you'll always get a 10% discount.
Did you know you can download ebooks from our website and read them instantly? Or that we sell top-notch ereaders and tablets ourselves?
Read more about it. You'll be glad you did.