My mom being Irish (third generation), I grew up with limericks, rhymes, and poetry. She always read a poem or two before going to bed from a slender collection that rested on her nightstand, and books of poetry lay scattered about on bookshelves and counters to be picked up and browsed through at leisure.
Nothing laborious or unduly difficult—rather a light touch here and there that added a dash of beauty or insight to the day, the same way other people set candles and frames around the house.
On the telephone desk stood an old earthenware mug filled with pens and pencils, and printed on it in black lettering was an Irish Blessing. From seeing it so often, I think we all had the poem memorized at an early age.
And on the telephone notepad or perhaps at the bottom of a grocery list, we often came across a dashed off rhyme or limerick by Mom, some effervescent burst of wit that couldn’t be suppressed.
On the living room wall hung one of her favorite poems. She asked an Irish friend, known for his beautiful calligraphy, if he would copy it out for her. Then she bought an antique wooden frame and placed the poem where everyone could read the stirring lines.
Poetry was woven into the day, offering a moment to ponder some idea, a dip into profundity, a gasp at a beautiful thought or image, a smile at some witty phrase.
On this cold, snowy Saint Patrick’s Day, I’m going to celebrate by making a cup of tea and opening one of the books of poetry that lay scattered about my house.