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.