Thursday, December 10, 2015

in the bank

"In the bleak midwinter,
frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
water like a stone;
Snow had fallen,
snow on snow,
snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter,
long ago."
Man I love Christina Rossetti.
Love all poetry.
Poetry and song lyrics.
Old hymns too.

Last night I sat with an old friend, visiting my mother.
Our conversation led us by the hand in big loops and circles and brought us around to our beginning point; the power of words to comfort us.

My mother has forgotten things.
She is even forgetting how to speak, how to frame her thoughts with words.
But words have not forgotten her.
If anything, they hold an even greater power and importance for her.
When I quote back to her, snatches of song and poem, her eyes brighten.
Hearing a story read aloud stirs all of her emotions in turn, right in time with the words.

When I was a child, students still memorized things, poems mostly although nothing like the previous generation had. Nor they, like the generation before them. My great grandmother was known for breaking into snatches of song and for reciting poetry. My great Uncle Howard could recite great long epic poems, stanza after stanza. My own grandmother was a quoter as well and my mom too.  And my dad too now that I think about it. Bits and pieces and fragments of poems, selected just for the moment from a rich repository.

I'm so glad my earliest memories include plenty of poetry and song. That while I sat fidgeting and squirming on hard wooden pews, mighty hymns swirled in an out of focus. That as I sat pouring over the pages of Childcraft Encyclopedia's stories and poems, I was building something important. Those words, so rich and varied and colorful and comforting are there now. Just like money in the bank.

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