Sunday, January 9, 2022
By: Amelia McDaniel, Lay Associate for Christian Formation
I ran across a poem recently. Poems I particularly admire are written with an economy of words. The barest number of words can be used to evoke a universe of thoughts and feelings. I want to be clear I came to appreciate poetry later in life. Not long ago at all really. Maybe it’s because I have realized that I myself use way too many words that I have come to this appreciation.
This poem, by Maggie Smith, struck me when I saw it on New Year’s Day.
The rain is a broken piano, playing the same note over and over.
My five-year-old said that. Already she knows loving the world means loving the wobbles you can’t shim, the creaks you can’t oil silent – the jerry rigged parts, MacGyvered with twine and chewing gum.
Let me love the cold rain’s plinking. Let me love the world the way I love my young son, not only when he cups my face in his sticky hands, but when, roughhousing, he accidentally splits my lip.
Let me love the world like a mother. Let me be tender when it lets me down.
Let me listen to the rain’s one note and hear a beginner’s song.
There is so much I love about this poem. I understand the imagery because it is true for me too.
I particularly love her description of getting walloped by a child. I’ve had my own lip split open more than once by the ginormous head of a kid. Maybe you have too. It’s an out of body experience. Because your brain’s fight or flight mode is triggered when you receive a blow like that. And here you are holding this fragile creature who has effectively just punched you. All the tenderness and love you have for the little boxer you are holding in your arms meets with the rage you instinctively feel. It’s an odd sensation. Because love washes that adrenaline fueled rage away. Maybe not instantly, but pretty darn quickly. And you gaze at your own prize fighter with adoration with a sense of I love you no matter what.
As I read this poem, the beginner’s song the poet refers to, the song that plinks down steadily, in one note, that I heard is I love you, no matter what.