Words

Who would I be without books,
if I could only scrawl my name,

or not even that, just make a mark
thumb pressed in black ink,
writing a mystery, marks dancing
and empty masque on a white stage?

all those words unread, unwritten –
words I have gobbled up, plots
I have sucked dry, narratives gulped
and guzzled, and then my writing,
words scratched, scratched out,
scribbled, scrawled, scraped out of me,
words flung freely, words floating
in the air around me, waiting to be grabbed
and grappled, as if I’m catching fireflies
made of indiarubber.

What happened to all those “me”s?
Did we talk more, tell stories,
pull an audience in around the fire?
Did we carry the soul, the story,
the history of whatever people
we chanced among? Did we knead our
words into dough, cut our words
out of apples? Did we stitch stories
into samplers? Did we daydream
as we moved dust from place to place,
see plotlines moving in the flames?
Did we chant poems to the moon?
Did we pray? Did we whisper our words
into our children’s ears as they slept?

So many words. I have lost count.
More darkness than star, more grass
than flower, more sea than foam,
I have buried myself in them,
feasted on them,
vampire suckled myself on them.

11 thoughts on “Words

  1. Yes what did we do… this reminds me of a story I read about Anna Akhmatova who wrote a poem called Requiem that she memorized (and had friends memorize)… the poem was about the great purge during Stalin, and she had to go “pre-gutenberg” and even pre handwriting… to learn the skill of memorizing might be a good thing to learn.

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  2. Sigh… sometimes we don’t even realize the words we exchange among one another… the power they have to nurture or hurt others.

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  3. I want to be catching those words and being gobbled by them ~ I can relate to your writer’s quest for words and more words ~ Sometimes we find them, sometimes they find us ~

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  4. ‘It’s only words, and words are all I have…’ I love this, Sarah, especially:
    ‘thumb pressed in black ink,
    writing a mystery, marks dancing
    and empty masque on a white stage’;
    ‘words flung freely, words floating
    in the air around me, waiting to be grabbed
    and grappled, as if I’m catching fireflies’;
    ‘Did we knead our
    words into dough, cut our words
    out of apples?’
    and
    ‘More darkness than star, more grass
    than flower, more sea than foam’.

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  5. so glad you gobbled and sucked on words – so we your readers can enjoy them. The litany of word associations has a fabulous pace –
    ” grappled, as if I’m catching fireflies
    made of indiarubber.”
    Now that is just about the most elusive description I have heard!

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  6. That is a fabulous poem, Sarah. And that last stanza is unbelievably good!
    “So many words. I have lost count.
    More darkness than star, more grass
    than flower, more sea than foam,
    I have buried myself in them,
    feasted on them,
    vampire suckled myself on them.”

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  7. The poet awash in her medium as she should be. Lovely windings and turnings and effervescence and effluent. Might as well like it because I doubt there’s any turning back now. “Vampire” for me at the end was a little lurching for it makes the work much more vain–both in result as greedy for one’s own shrinking vein.

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