“I Carry Your Heart With Me”

Poet e.e. cummings penned some of the most memorable lines in a love poem, which a close friend of mine recently read at his wedding. As an artist, my friend found the simple stanza to be worthy of the tribute that he gave to his bride of only a few hours: “i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)” While I have loved the poem myself since I first heard it, I recognized it again in visual form. I am much more accustomed to seeing the poetry of life through a lens, but the marriage of e.e. cummings’ lines met the reality of life this weekend on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® in Arizona. The memorial of a face, obviously a loved one, was strapped to a dedicated 60-mile walker. The Komen 3-Day asks its participants to fundraise for breast cancer research in exchange for the physically demanding challenge of walking for three days and 60 miles.

Brenda carries images of her mother who passed away from breast cancer when she was 14 years old

I was enlightened suddenly by the scene that I had witnessed from Boston to Seattle and from Atlanta to Arizona. The physical reminder of a loved one who had been affected or who had passed away from breast cancer was literally being carried. It was the act of bringing that person as close as possible to themselves: not only their memory carried in the heart of the walker, but the image, the photograph, the tribute. The photograph of a person is often how we want to remember them, a powerful memoir to have on the journey that will tax them.

John walks out of Opening Ceremony on Day 1 of the Arizona 3-Day, wearing the shirt he has carried over 720 miles on Komen events this year

The walkers will often imprint t-shirts, a particularly poignant similarity to cummings’ lines: “(anywhere i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done by only me is your doing,my darling).” The reminder of a loved one who is battling breast cancer or who has passed is often reviving to a participant on Day 2 when perhaps the heat of the desert starts to drain them emotionally.

Arizona Day 2

In the third stanza, the poet dives deeper into the relationship of his beloved by sharing with the reader “the deepest secret nobody knows” and then referring to this secret as “the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart.” After discussing why people walk the 3-Day over the past thirteen weeks, I have found that there are many “deepest secrets” that only begin to surface as someone explains their relationship to the person for whom they are walking. What they cannot or sometimes do not want to discuss is this relationship of deep love that will always be difficult to express in words.

But they carry them. They carry them deep in their hearts, and the poet finishes his work even more directly than he began: “i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)”.

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