Sunday, February 19, 2006

MamaSaysOm - Distance

Dear Britton,

The first gift I ever purchased for you was a beautifully illustrated version of Robert Frost's Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. Two days after finding out I was pregnant I stopped by Barnes and Noble to buy you a little gift, a "welcome to the world, I'm so glad you're here" kind of gift. I wandered around the children's section looking for the perfect first book. And then I saw it. I was drawn to the simplicity of the poetry and the softness of the illustrations.

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

This is one of the few poems I have carried in my memory since high school. Frost is a little easier to memorize than some poets. Many of his poems are simple stories unfolding for the reader. He's direct and to the point and he has a certain easy way with rhythm and rhyme. The steady iambic tetrameter of this old favorite is much like the gentle lub-dub of a beating heart. Lub-dub, lub-dub. Over and over. In and out. Life in the blood. Life in the words.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

I would read the story-poem to you while your were growing in my belly. I wondered what you looked like growing there in the dark. Would you have your dad's eyelashes? Would you have my smile? I wondered what my voice sounded like to you and if the rhythm was soothing. Once you were born I would recite the words as I changed your diaper or when your ears would keep us both awake at night. Even now you are mesmerized by a story that flows from my lips without having to be read from a book. You watch my face intently as I tell you about the man and the snow and his horse and the journey he is taking.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

But, what I love most about this particular poem, what keeps me coming back to these words over and over again is that it is much more than a poem, much more than a story about a snowy afternoon--it's a story about life. Like the gentleman guiding his horse through the woods we are all on a journey to some distant destination. We're all making our way through the elements, through the darkness, through the depths. We make our pit stops. We take time to enjoy the view, to breathe, to be present, to let the snow fall on our up-turned faces, and we continue on. Because we have a long way still to go. Because we have promises to fulfill to the deepest places in our soul. Because we can't rest until we've arrived. Because that's what we do.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

I'm so glad we could share part of our journey,


Anonymous beansprout said...

As always, beautiful words for your little boy. Reminds me a of a prayer Nelson Mandela had spoken daily in the townships in South Africa:

Take care of the children for they have a long way to go.
Take care of the ones in between for they are doing the work.
Take care of the elders for they have come a long way.

May your journeys be blessed.

10:24 PM  
Blogger acumamakiki said...

Oh, this made me teary-eyed. I especially love the photo that you added with your beautiful words. I needed to hear/read this today.

4:15 AM  
Blogger gkgirl said...

i have never thought of reading
this poem to my children...
good idea

4:53 AM  
Blogger mayseek life said...

how incredible to ponder the journey...what has happened,the present,the posibblities! your words inspire my soul today. thanks

6:03 AM  
Anonymous Linda said...

My girlfriend also memorized this poem in high school. She recites it frequently, especially if she's had a drink or two... LOL

Over the years, I've come to like it very much.

7:45 AM  
Blogger Alexandra S said...

With just a few moments to spare between moving I wanted to stop by your site and see what you've been up to. Wow, what a beautiful post. I hope you print it out and put it in an envelope somewhere for your son to read when he is older. And I had never heard of that poem and your thoughts between each verse were truly moving.

And the photo from your last post- amazing-where was that taken?

Thank you Michelle for this constant stream of inspiration and beauty!

8:15 AM  
Blogger megg said...

Lovely post. I agree, you should tuck this into the book so that when he grown up and it becomes his he will read these words and know how much his Mom was thinking about him. It's a lovely poem to share, thank you for sharing it here.

P.S. I had to memorize this in school too!

8:37 AM  
Blogger Deb R said...

Beautiful post and photo, Michelle.

9:32 AM  
Blogger tara dawn said...

I love this!! How lucky your little one is to have such a creative and nurturing mommy! How lucky we all are to be able to experience part of your journey with you as well.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Living Part Deux said...

In times of stress, I often repeat the last two lines of this poem. It is a mantra that acknowledges the continuation of the journey past whatever obstacle or challenge looms at the moment. Your interpretations are wonderful What a great thing to recite to him - knowing he will encounter it again and again through his entire life.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Josephine said...

Beautiful, once again~

I love this idea that we have promises to our souls to fulfill. I've not really ever thought of it in those terms, not in the soft, intuitive way you've articulated here...

Thank you, this is indeed worth some dreaming about...

Sincerely ~ Josephine

12:48 PM  
Blogger baylor said...

Your son will especially enjoy this post when he is older...It's beautiful.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Bethany said...

I have such tears in my eyes! Your love for him is beautiful and inspiring...

5:39 PM  
Blogger Laini Taylor said...

Lovely post. I think that reading all these blogs recently and connecting with women around the world who have children and are experiencing things I have yet to experience has made me think a lot about my own plans to have children -- my post today was about my anxieties. Thanks for sharing your beautiful relationship!

6:34 PM  
Blogger Frankie said...

I've always loved this poem and I'm so glad you've passed it on to Britton. It will stay with him always I'm sure, and it's so lovely for him to have a poem that will always remind him of his wonderful mama. He's so lucky to have you!

7:02 PM  
Blogger liz elayne said...

i have this image of Britton watching you as you speak these words to him. just beautiful. simply beautiful.

11:31 PM  
Blogger Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

How lucky he is to have a mother like you who has thought of his path since the beginning, surely he will trust the journey ahead.

2:42 AM  
Blogger andrea said...

Wonderful post...just beautiful.

8:07 AM  

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