We are, he is convinced, devolving into verbal neanderthals, losing are ability to recognize the linguistic tools that once set us apart from other species, or at least so we assured ourselves. She knows that what truly sets us apart from other species is the arcane skill we have at being able to convince ourselves that delusion, firmly held, is fact. Still, she cannot disagree with him, simplicity is a too close cousin to inanity, and nuance is the first relative to be cast out. And so with ever fewer words, we seem to have ever more to say, and speaking endlessly, say ever less.
She says every woman should own a little black dress, and during the time she tries them on I am thinking what she meant was every man should be married to and in love with a woman who wears a little black dress as well as she does, but I say It looks really nice on you, You should buy it, and I think, I will find events to which you can where it frequently, because it looks so good on you, and you in that little black dress make me look so good standing next to you, and men, although they will never admit it, are all so often about reflected glory.
My grandson has a smile that is as old as time itself, as young as the mind of a four-year-old and in this moment, beaming, I am left to guess which it is, for he won’t say, and so I smile with him and time has no meaning, no beginning, no end.
It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, a pictograph usually five or fewer, and a word, but a single one by definition, while a word, with two exceptions, has at least two letters, and with the same two exceptions, a letter is always wordless but can be symbolic. The Hawaiian language has only fourteen letters which may explain why native Hawaiians are rarely wordy, but fails utterly to account for their deep love of symbols.
Tomorrow this poem will most assuredly no lnger be here, though when during the night it will slip away, never again to be seen, I don’t know or perhaps it will return in a form I would not recognize, re-crafted by the hand of an unseen editor.
It may take on a meaning unfamiliar, or translate itself into a tongue that I can neither speak nor read, or perhaps, most dreadedly, assume the shape of prose, accreting words until the embedded thought is bloated and wholly unrecognizable.
Even if I tried to stop it, watched carefully, it would no doubt remind me that poems have a life of their own once cast to paper or pixels, and I am at best only another editor or reader, and it takes kindly on most days to neither.
Words have geographic homes and here old favorites seem ill at ease, fitting poorly into thoughts that demand their presence. I use them regardless, but we both know that they will hide their shadings, but in a world where words are the last option, we both know that I have no alternative but to turn to them, to wheedle, to cajole, and ultimately to submit to whatever they will allow me. After all, the alternative his silence, and for a writer, that is death by a single cut.
archetypes symbols arrayed arranged precise meanings elusive multiplicative hearer dependent no Carrollean wishes fortresses erected below the tide line await waves minor etchings Durer or trivial seen or ignored Lot cast either diamond or salt pillar eroded by rain adrift torn by tongues cast to ash.
First appeared in Eureka Literary Magazine Vol. 5, No. 2 (1997)
“Every once in a while,” he says and the screeching in my head drowns out what follows. I know what he means of course, that is the easy part, but the gulf between meaning and saying is so broad I can stop and count the traffic of ideas floating by, each seeking its own purchase, each finding none. It could be worse, I know, he could have said “each and every once in a while, and he does that as well, though not in a while,” but even the once was enough. I notice he is gone, and I wonder how much life flowed by while I was otherwise engaged.