This slightly complicated story can illustrate. I’m at work, I work with words sometimes and it means editing. And sometimes that’s a collaborative effort.

me: Sorry for all my changes, I just think this text could be a little less… loquacious.

co-worker 1: You know, every single person who has ever used the word loquacious in talking with me has been very loquacious themselves…

co-worker 2: …but, I don’t think team d is that way at all. In fact, I think he’s very…

co-worker 1: Exactly. I was saying, you’re the first person I’ve heard use the word loquacious without being it themselves…

How did this happen? At my high school graduation, I was publicly referred to as ‘not quiet’. Ask melka, I spend the morning after every night out replaying, and dreading, all the stupid things I said the night before… all the times I shared too much, thought I was too smart, interupted people… it’s a hangover of verbal dimensions. So how did this happen?

Well, we know the short answer. The expected, easy way to describe it is to say it is from being split open. The times when I am most silent, when I should have words but don’t. They come more and more often now.

When she cries, she drops her hands into her lap, or onto the bed. And then she lifts her hand back up to her head, to her face, and then lets it fall, again, down. Usually one hand at a time, sometime alternating, usually the same one. The other clutches a tissue. Up, down, with a delicate thud.

And it’s like a shovel splintering into my chest. Like when you’re starting a dig, you slam the spade in, wiggle it back and forth, up… and down. A soft thud. Splitting me

But that’s the first way I would describe what’s happening to me. A violent and quick description. But on review, it’s more like… like fingers pushing into my eyes. The dark, and then the bright light, then the flashing colors – orange, yellow, flashing black. Then, the heat, and the sweeping dark. Like a hand over my forehead, fingers reaching down and digging into my eyes, a claw pushing in my skull. Just like her skull was pushed in when she was born, when she was dead.

I’ve been reading poetry lately, T.S. Eliot, it’s hard and I used to love it. But now it leaves me cold, like it is what it is – not timeless beauty, but one man writing stuff a while ago. But it’s also been shocking to be reminded of language, and how it has ceased to float in my brain. The way metaphors are surprises, how literal my thoughts have become. Maybe it’s the approach of middle age, maybe it’s the loss, and of course it’s this claw.

I don’t think in language any more, I don’t revel in words. I just want everyone to shut up much of the time, and I’m miserable in the silence.

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