Jim Mayzik SJ                   Everything Matters
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Jim Mayzik SJ Blog

I'll be using this space from time to time to share my reflections and thoughts on various topics.  Please feel free to add to the conversation by writing some reaction in the COMMENT section! 




The Lanyard

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.

Billy Collins

Lies My Mother Told Me

If you keep eating raw spaghetti
         you’ll get pinworms,
         then I’ll have to make
         a necklace of garlic for you to wear
         each night while you sleep,
         until they go away.
If you’re mean to your younger brother, I’ll know
         because I have a special eye
         that spies on you when I’m not home.
         You cannot hide from it,
         so don’t try.
If you touch your “down there”
         any time other than when using the toilet,
         your hand will turn green and fall off.
If you keep crossing your eyes
         they will stay that way
         until the wind
         changes direction.
It is bad luck to kill a moth. Moths are
         the souls of our ancestors and it just
         might be Papa paying a visit.
If you kiss a boy on the mouth
         your lips will stick together
         and he’ll use the opportunity
         to suck out your brains.
If you ever lie to me
         God will know and
         rat you out.
         And sometimes
         God exaggerates.
         Trust me —
         you don’t want that
         to happen.

Elizabeth Thomas