This love poem published in 1952 by this rebellious Harvard grade, E.E. Cummings, who knew what proper grammar was, but was also smart and imaginative enough to understand a true love poem should turn conformity upside down and inside is more than just love poem for me.
[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
by E.E. Cummings
is a gift from big sister.
(Fuck. Just by writing that, I can feel my eyes swell with tears. So, I apologize now for my own grammar mistakes as I continue to type blinded still by grief. I will no longer be that host to replenish your drinks. I’m in that dark corner).
Exactly to this day, five months ago, my sister passed on (I’ve been playing with the different terms to see which one fits the description of death best. All the other terms seem so wrong. “Passed on” makes me feel like she is still in my grasp in a way).
It was during her sickest point (Cancer that cruel demon) that I found this poem on her Pinterest page. I knew of E.E. Cummings, but just never really got into him. I was too interested by all my other poetry (poems that she was delighted that I could just recite by memory. So whenever she asked, I did). Then there was this new poem I never had time for before on her page.
I wasn’t surprised my sister was pinning poems. Twelve years apart in age, book ending our other siblings, we were (are… damn it. What verbs are right anymore?) the most like one another.
When I was little, I wanted to be like her. In the simplest of terms from my childhood memories of my big sister, she was nice, funny, brave, and aware. She was aware of me and I was aware of my love for her. These terms didn’t change when we got older. They were just solidified.
And now I am left without her.
No one will ever be as impressed and as proud as she was now when I utter a verse from Frost or Dickinson or Poe. And I frankly have no desire for this parlor trick. What I truly desire in my “heart of hearts” is for the impossible to happen. And so my heart has been in this tricky place lately. I must set aside my sadness and grief so I can attend to my other guests. I must find the same braveness my sister shielded herself with so I can continue on to be as nice and funny and aware as she was. I still want to be just like my big sister and the only way I know how to do this is to carry her
“…heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)”
I found this poem when snooping (as little sister’s do so well) around her pinned “rooms” because I wanted to give her a gift. It was going to be a quilt for her bed. I was going to have this poem written on the quilt. I never got a chance to even place the order. I never got to give her a gift when she has given me so many.
She would never shoo me from her bed when I came searching for a comforting place to hide from my lonely, frightening dreams when I was a child. She never pushed me away. She only ever held me close (she was so nice).
As you read the lines in the poems found here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/179622
Notice how calculated the spacing is. The punctuation and spacing in addition to the words show this coziness. This is the comfort that I felt, always, with my sister.
The last story she told me, as I sat next to her hospice bed, was how she remembered being on an amusement park ride with me. I was a child and frightened (she was a child too, but always so brave) and so she pulled me close. In this bed, recalling this memory, I remember distinctly, how she scrunched her left shoulder as she looked my way, a smiling complementing that mischievous gleam always sparking from her soft green eyes at the memory of this (she was so funny). Then she said, “I loved the feeling of having you close. I loved that closeness” (she was so aware).
I carry this gift
(i carry it in my heart)