Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Poetry Wednesday, Vol. 88


Billy Collins

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue
or even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall

well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted   
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.
I just made my third attempt to pour hot water into a mug for tea.  A mug all ready full of hot water, tea bags steeping.  It is tedious, forgetting.  Going through the extra steps of filling the pot, starting the fire, waiting distractedly for the kettle to whistle.  Beginning to pour while thinking of something else, only to find out that, oops!  the mug is full.  

In my days it seems I spend all my time trying not to forget inconsequential things while doing an odious job of remembering great, earth-shattering events.  I try to remember to tell the kids this, or teach them that, oh, I forgot the other.  There is so much to remember!

My family had, for as long as I can remember, a little box.  Much like a recipe box it was divided into two sections - family and friends.  The sections were stuffed full of pictures and sometimes the lines were blurred.  Some carefully cut out from prayer letters, some updated prayer cards.  Some were pictures taken when last we had visited Michigan or Missouri, hopelessly out of date, but the only pictures we had of certain loved ones.  My mom has a fabulous memory for remembering all the details about every single person in that box.  We would each take a picture and she would tell us all about what was happening in so-and-so's life.  Then we would each take turns praying for the people in our picture.  As with so many childhood memories, I remember liking it when I was smaller, and inwardly (maybe outwardly) rolling my eyes and wishing the family meal time torture would end as I got older.  Now I look back with nothing but fondness.  I've never met some of the people in that family prayer box, but if you were to bring up their names today, I would know plenty about them.  My Mom continues to forward prayer letters, pictures, updates, you name it, she sends it out, to all of us, reminding us of each of these peoples lives and needs.

Here is the part where I make my request of you.  Yes.  YOU.  We have our own little family prayer box.  It is much smaller than my parents', but contains pictures and prayer cards and not-so-carefully folded over prayer letters.  I'm not quite as neat as my Mom, maybe someday....  maybe not.  We keep all those lovely Christmas pictures that arrive during the holidays, updating and adding to the prayer box.  Some pictures are held together with a paper clip, as I can't stand to get rid of the year before.  They are so fun to look through!  (look, there's Aiden as a baby, wasn't he cute? now comes Bailey, next is the Molly! Aw, so sweet...)  Anyway, we need your pictures.  If you want us to pray for you, you have to remind us not to forget you!  Now, you don't need to run out and get a family portrait done, you don't even need to print one off.  Just send me your favorite digital copy and I will do all the hard work of having CVS print it out for me.  If you sent out a Christmas picture or a recent prayer letter/card, then no need to worry.  We've got you.

And you might want to send your picture soon.  Mikey has been particularly flowery and sweet with his prayers.  His latest lunch time blessing included "Dear Loving Father shining above us.... help our hearts to remain thankful..... we will speak with you often.... we are ever truly yours..... amen"  I really hope his prayers make God smile and give a little chuckle the way they do us.  And who doesn't want that boy praying for them?  I wish he'd pray for me!  

So!  Please!  Send us your pictures!  (livovichkris (at) gmail(dot)com)   We want to remember you. 


Beth said...

I love this poem. I love your post. And I love the box. I always want to do this, pray for the people who sent us Christmas cards and pictures; people who sent me cards for my father. But somehow they get pushed into a corner and after a few days, yes, forgotten about.

And God bless that little Mikey. His prayers are just beautiful and I am sure God smiles at him. Peaceful and blessed day to you. Love to you.

Molly Sabourin said...

I love everything about this post, and Mikey's prayers. People, love, fellowship - yes, that is what matters. I am desirious of your family's prayers! Let me know if you don't have a photo of us (of course, I have plenty I could send you). Thanks for this, Kris. It warmed my heart. : )

Michelle said...

I love this poem! I was just thinking how much I have been learning through our homeschooling journey. I feel like I've gotten a master's degree in the most delightful and best way possible.

And I always say - I don't need to remember the details (quadratic equations especially; the names of the nine muses for sure) because I know how to look them up when I need them.

Oh - I just remembered I wanted a cup of tea. About an hour ago. :)


Beth Hanna said...

You know how to save those "old" pictures? Make a memory book of them! I have one called Friends Far and Near! It's fun to look through! I can help you - if you want, that is!!