Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

Life in the Time of Corona: What I Carried

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First bloom on the tulip poplar this spring

I’ve been proud of my mother, a sociable sort, who has not left her house in weeks in the time of corona. She’s being extra careful since my Dad is a diabetic and has other health issues. I’ve been proud of my husband’s mother, planning her weekly outing to the grocery store judiciously, walking every day. Neither of them complains. They have simply – adjusted.

It is a gift they are giving me: the example of fortitude. By being careful, they embrace the world and their own lives.

Being careful is not the same thing as being afraid. That is something for all of us to think about going forward – or at least for me to think about -as well as the example I’m setting for my children.

(Sincerest thanks to Mary Laura Philpott for bringing this poet, Maggie Smith, to my attention…)

What I Carried
by Maggie Smith

I carried my fear of the world
to my children, but they refused it.

I carried my fear of the world
on my chest, where I once carried
my children, where some nights it slept
as newborns sleep, where it purred
but mostly growled, where it licked
sweat from my clavicles.

I carried my fear of the world
and apprenticed myself to the fear.

I carried my fear of the world
and it became my teacher.
I carried it, and it repaid me
by teaching me how to carry it.

I carried my fear of the world
the way an animal carries a kill in its jaws
but in reverse: I was the kill, the gift.
Whose feet would I be left at?

I carried my fear of the world
as if it could protect me from the world.

I carried my fear of the world
and for my children modeled marveling
at its beauty but keeping my hands still—
keeping my eyes on its mouth, its teeth.

I carried my fear of the world.
I stroked it or I did not dare to stroke it.

I carried my fear of the world
and it became my teacher.
It taught me how to keep quiet and still

I carried my fear of the world
and my love for the world.
I carried my terrible awe.

I carried my fear of the world
without knowing how to set it down.

I carried my fear of the world
and let it nuzzle close to me,
and when it nipped, when it bit
down hard to taste me, part of me
shined: I had been right.

I carried my fear of the world
and it taught me I had been right.
I carried it and loved it
for making me right.

I carried my fear of the world
and it taught me how to carry it.

I carried my fear of the world
to my children and laid it down
at their feet, a kill, a gift.
Or I was laid at their feet.

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Maggie Smith, “What I Carried” from Good Bones. Copyright © 2017 by Maggie Smith. Reprinted by permission of Tupelo Press.

 

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And, for something a little lighter…

https://youtu.be/wVs5AyjzwRM

(Thanks, Paige Bainbridge!!) xoxo

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