A phrase released can never be unsaid –
it radiates beyond the mouth and mind,
and particles of sense display, instead,
the bits the sayer might have left behind,
if thought and strategy preceded tongue,
and magic were respected in the word.
For language is the light we loose among
ourselves, no sooner voiced than blared or blurred.
The speaker says “I take it back” in vain,
and must accept the shape the message made.
And this when most reaction isn’t plain,
but tends to angle off from what conveyed
the impetus for speaking out at all,
the words the speaker rarely can recall.
I acted in a play when I was three,
an adaptation based on Gingerbread.
The teacher had to make a role for me,
so I played silent Heifer. On my head
he set a giant mask he’d painted black.
I teetered onto stage and held my mark,
and waited for the cue to totter back,
and no one heard me talking in the dark.
Around my head that cavern echoed speech,
so privately I voiced my favorite word:
I whispered “precious” over and again.
I’m sure that class was organized to teach
us all, but I obtained what no one heard –
a love of language dating back to then.
Disintegrate the symbol from the man
and disengage the woman from her theme.
Attempt to break the linkage if you can,
of thought to word to universal dream.
Beginning, we’re informed there was the word,
so language somehow antedated speech.
We wonder how that ordering occurred –
but paradox exceeds linguistic reach.
So we assemble syllables to give
ideas and messages the means to move,
but language starts to shape the way we live
as soon as it’s created. Do we prove
ourselves by forming words to make us shine,
or from our language plumb our heart’s design?
A question needs an answer or it dies
an awkward conversational demise.
But all the questions wait for are replies;
if truth was ever sought, it’s been forgot.
I’ve long ignored the evidence my eyes
and ears amass in all my futile tries.
This realization comes as a surprise,
but having realized I’ll deny it not.
A question gets an answer, heard or read,
but true and answer needn’t be the same.
And auditors mishear, deny or duck
too often to respond to what is said.
So answering’s more likely trope or game
than loosing truth, and dialogue is luck.
Those syllables connote the opposite
of what we all agree is common speech.
You tell me “boring” is appropriate
as synonym – exactly as we teach
the kids, but now consider otherwise:
the “ho” is yawning to inhale more air
and “hum” is how we safely exercise
our vocal chords. But more than these, this pair
of syllables requires looser jaw
and laxer mouth – you cannot clench or purse
a yawn, or snap a hum – that’s just a law
of physiology. No bitter curse
can issue thus. Repeat the neat refrain
to manage stress and soften aging pain.
Sure mariposa is a lovely word,
and psyche packs provocative surprise,
but I declare the language is absurd
that calls fantastic insects butterflies.
Why do we from the dairy designate
a creature so refined it sips the bloom
and flits on air in faerie featherweight?
What message from that name should we assume?
It’s made of wings like petals in the air.
It flutters down and up again above
the vernal earth, with no apparent care
except for sipping nectar, making love,
imprinting every flower with its kiss,
and propagating metamorphosis.
Of all the gifts my life bestows on me,
ideas I value most.
Computer treasures electricity,
but software is a ghost
that current-craves as we require blood,
as sunshine is essential for the bud,
and we, extravagant, are built to be
concerned with more than molecules and mud.
And if I’m asked to name another thing
essential to my glee,
then language is the paragraph I’d sing
about, as joy for me.
And I don’t need to name a favorite third
and I don’t care who thinks my good’s absurd:
Ideas to me are nourishment and wing,
and I am ever searching for a word.