Asking an English major to pick their favorite poem (or book or author, even) is like asking a gardener to name their favorite flower – how can we possibly select just one when each is different and brings beauty to offer to the whole?
That said, of course I have preferences when it comes to my reading material, and poetry is no exception.
The category of Favorite Poet goes to Mary Oliver but there is zero chance of me picking an actual favorite title by her. I could read her collections my whole life long and the words that jump out at my head and my heart would change from day to day or week to week because that’s how stunning and soul-touching her poetry is. If there’s one MO poem you simply must know, though, read “Wild Geese” and then read it again and again throughout all your days.
One poem that my family reads every day, or at least has the access to do so, is “i carry your heart with me(i carry it in” by e.e. cummings. The reason they can read it every day if they so choose? The writing’s on the wall. Literally.
Years ago, a friend shared a home décor idea with me via Pinterest (for posterity’s sake – this is/was a website where you create an unlimited number of electronic bulletin boards and can save as many whatevers (recipes, pictures, quotes, links, workouts, you name it) as you like) that took my poetry love to a whole new level, at least in terms of display: writing a favorite verse/piece on an actual wall of your house.
This was a slight panic-making idea to tackle because 1) it meant committing to just one poem to live on our walls, and 2) it meant putting my handwriting ON. OUR. WALLS! I don’t hate my handwriting but it’s not the prettiest or the fanciest looking script, so I had to just go with the idea that what makes it special is that’s it is mine; it doesn’t have to be perfect looking to be perfect for my family to see.
So, I did it. I pulled up a copy of the poem, grabbed a pencil and a Sharpie, and got to work putting the words on our very bumpy, very old, lath and plaster dinning room walls. My arms were sore by the time it was all said and done and I burned through at least one Sharpie, maybe two, but I instantly loved the end result and right away my readers started reading it (which was really just HD at the time, but eventually the others learned, too).
Then, because I’m me and I’ve always loved to rearrange furniture, I had to rewrite the poem on a different wall because we moved our giant china hutch. Then, a couple years later, I had to do it all over *again* because those walls came down during our remodel and a new spot was created where the poem got to re-emerge, this time on smooth new drywall, but with slightly less real estate on which to ink the words.
Ultimately, that’s OK. The poem isn’t really all that long so it really doesn’t need a ton of space. Whether it is written out large or downsized a bit, it carries big love and significance, so tucked in the corner works just fine. No matter the location or font size, it stands as a whenever-needed reminder of the love our family carries for one another.
That’s exactly why I picked this poem in the first place – in hopes that my babies would read it enough times while they are under my roof that they would carry its words and its sentiment with them when it’s time for those five pieces of my heart to start really wandering the world. I hope they’ll carry me with them as I will always do with them. I carry their hearts. I carry their hearts in my heart.
- Post 28/52.