By the time I started a poetry scrapbook in late 2002, I’d been reading a poem a day for three years, from the time NPR came to Waco and broadcast The Writer’s Almanac at noon. It was my first daily exposure to poetry. For our anniversary that year John gave me a copy of Good Poems, a collection curated by Garrison Keillor. I had gotten to the point that not only did I like poems, but I picked favorites. I wanted to remember my favorites. Never a gal for scrapbooks, I collected words.
Keeping became a discipline I looked forward to. Each November as Thanksgiving neared (my personal New Year’s), I’d look forward to my trip to the store to pick out a new three-ring notebook in which to save poems. What color would I choose this year? I even enjoyed the limitation of late-season offerings on the shelf.
But as my kids grew into middle and high school, three-ring binders were something I purchased in bulk. When it came time for the handoff I’d just grab a leftover notebook from a drawer. In 2016 those two practices converged — the only unused binder just happened to be yellow.
If you’ve read The Joy of Poetry and you’re paying attention to dates, you’ll notice that this Keep section corresponds to the recurrence of my mother’s cancer and continues through her death. The year she died my poetry scrapbook was mauve. The first poem was a haiku I wrote and printed to use as a Christmas card. I printed it on sheets from a notepad illustrated by a child at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. In that year’s notebook, along with my mom’s obituary and euology, are the obituary and euology for my grandfather, who died about six weeks before Mom. I have two sweet notes from my kids. There’s also poems from Mary Oliver, Rumi, Lucille Clifton, a fishing poem by Robert Traver, and a selection from Romeo and Juliet printed on a dark chocolate wrapper.
Yes, I was grieving, but I was okay. I didn’t need saving yet.