Thursday, February 28, 2013

When Words Fail Me

Today, a friend complimented some of my photographs, calling them poems. I was happy to hear her words.

I once wrote poems, or I once tried to write poems. 

Often I could not move beyond an image or the sounds of words conversing with one another on the tongue and teeth and lip.

"But what does it mean?" workshop readers would ask.

Often, I didn't know. 

Often, I don't know what words mean.

For example, what fell overnight? 

Not sleet, I think, since it was not wet ice, not slickened and frozen, shmeared on the windshield. Not hail, I think, only because it was tiny, like nuggets of shaved ice in a snowball, but firmer. Ice pellets, perhaps, but I've never heard a weatherman or woman announce, "Warning: pellets falling!" More confusing, the Internet tells me that the term "ice pellets" is synonymous with "sleet," but my experience of the two reveals significant difference. There is no one right word.

There is often no one right word for much of my experience. 

Words, some writer once wrote, are like clear glass: you see through them to meaning. But for me, words ripple like winded water blown this way, then that, their shape distorting and changing, winding in new directions, leading toward new channels.

And sometimes the channel just stops.

Like this.

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