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the mountains in my mouth

I want to be with the people who are wildly languaged. I want their words to scratch my tongue and clot my blood and make me understand what I always thought I knew. Like this from Mark Leidner -

love is like a bunch of mountain ranges 
that when you look at them flatten to nothing 
then leap back into the sky when you look away

And this. I mean, holy shit. Did you know it could get so good? When I read such things, I feel as though a fearless, sensual use of language is a mark of the grown-up - at least, the grown-up writer, because of course not everyone in the world wants words. Some are painters, wanderers, mute dreamers. But some of us must have stood on the old woman's threshold and had her pour syntax and syllables all over us.* When I look at myself, I see that I was on my way to maturity and got sidelined somehow - got drawn, I think, into other people's words, and trying to become fluent in them, and forgetting the grit and swollen sunlight and aching hills of my own soul-tongue. These days, I wouldn't write about sasquatch, for example, whereas a few years ago that was one of the most right things I did.**

Fear, I think, is what keeps us from maturing. There are lots of reasons why we get frightened, and most have to do with aloneness - although many involve dark streets and strange people walking towards us, of course. (And please, please don't stand too close to the railing of a high up balcony.) I wonder how many people change their language just so they belong somewhere, anywhere, because they don't feel brave enough to try belonging where they really do.

I've seen in real life this power of words, and how we can become something quite different if the wrong word is stuck to us. And how we understand everything, finally, oh thank god, when we get the right word. Often the process is out of our hands. It seems there is a trend lately amongst those in charge of official language to dismantle words, not hand them out - and I think that's a particularly nasty power trip. Why not have a dialogue with people about what words you might give them, and they can answer back which ones they want, which ones feel right, and you can agree then on a truth?

I'm stopping now because in a minute I'm off to church. It's the only place hereabouts that I can find people talking about the risen sun. We talk a lot about how the old faiths were conquered, smashed, stolen. But let's look too at how, in many cases, there was a rich dialogue. A sharing of languages which were, in fact, so very similar to each other. In this, at least, I've grown up.

* incase you need it explained.
** in the memory of light

1 comment:

  1. i feel very strongly about both words and colours. when you get either of those things right, it's like a song, a song that comes from or nestles into your heart. sometimes words come to me out of nowhere, when i wasn't even looking for them---they will pop into my head and rock my world in some way. some fo the deepest truths i've ever told myself have come this way. i've seen people crushed by a wrong word, or liberated from old hurts by a rightly chosen one given at the right time.

    yes, words matter.


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