Finding Blessings In The Laundry

"...myrrh and myrtle from our moutain-mother,"

“…myrrh and myrtle from our moutain-mother,”

Don’t you love finding surprises in your pockets? It’s like receiving a message from the ghost of yourself past that travelled through the washing/time machine’s spinning vortex just when you need it most. A $5 bill for a store-bought latte, someone’s contact info you thought you’d lost forever. Today I found an excerpt of a poem in the just-washed pocket of a pair of jeans I hadn’t worn in years.

It’s a fairly long poem, but here is the third-to-last stanza:

“In Memory of E. M. El-K.” by Ameen Rihani

Shall I strew on thee faded blossoms, Brother
Or fiery buds consumed by their own flame,
Or myrrh and myrtle from our Mountain-mother,
Or golden rods that whispered oft thy name?

I can’t remember why I wrote it down. I can’t even remember when I first encountered Rihani’s work. I suppose it had something to do with the book I was writing at the time, the antagonist of which is named after a Myrtle tree. I love the image of “mountain-mother” which is apropos my fictional setting—the hollow of a mountain in West Virginia.

Anyway, finding it again today feels like a happy omen. I’m about to undertake another revision of that manuscript, return it to a version that my agent and I both loved so much—before I started doing custom edits for acquiring editors, each one of them urging me in directions I never intended to go. Now I’m headed back to the Whisper Hollow I envisioned, with this freshly-washed poem as a talisman. (I’m so glad the washing machine’s flux capacitor works.)

And not only am I blessed by the appearance of this forgotten verse, but so is the load of laundry that spun around Rihani’s words–now my “garments smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of ivory palaces.” ~Psalm 45.