How the words work: matters to me.
The way they sound, where they ought to be,
The tone of voice, the click of tongue,
The silence when the words are done.
Tell me you didn’t hear, that it doesn’t matter,
That I’m over-sensitive, that it’s only chatter.
But how the words work matters to me.
The space they find; the space they leave.
Phrases echo in my head;
They catch and pull like knotted thread,
Stroking others long-forgotten,
Old, enchanting or half-rotten,
Showering me with painted rain
That, dancing, sings an old refrain
In new language; or leaps away
Inviting me to come and play.
But, like sweet sirens on the rocks,
Words call me to Pandora’s box,
Leading me to wander blind
Towards a labyrinthine mind.
To wonder what the speaker meant
Is poisoned by my temperament.
I worry and I follow breadcrumbs
Cold, alone, until the witch comes.
Far better now to look instead
At what the words spark in my head.
Why the language resonates,
Why it flatters or berates,
What that comes from, who and why,
Why it makes me laugh or cry.
Then I need not be just reader
Rather, find the page and feed her.
Words are power, gavel, sword,
Music, danger, peace, discord.
Sometimes darkly rich, intrusive,
Sometimes maddening, elusive.
Whoever spoke of stones and sticks
Had never felt the stabs and kicks
Of lifelong, inbuilt, guilt and shame
Every time you hear your name.
Now I own words, they can’t claim me.
I am learning to be Amy.