Some words are skins of wild beasts, others satin or gold. Some fly, some
crawl, shrivelling upon inspection; others stay majestically still. One will
clamber from the rubble of collapsed temples, safe in a world without
rescuers. Others can be wrung from us, like water from a rag; or stay
inside, festering. Yet even in the vaguest utterance there is perfect order.
1st – The Mythical Words
Stumbling in a drift of snow-with-bird prints, the abominable wordsmith
looms in a flurry of memes. Watch his blue lips, slicing counterparts
of tropic abundance in a land so thinly spread with phenomena. A hundred
words for drunkenness pour out of his mouth, a meltwater torrent.
2nd – The Safe Word
You’d be ill advised to opt for the password to your savings, a release into
penury. Better would be your birthplace or first pet, delivering you back
to the only innocence, the womb’s, or padding towards you, potent spirit
animal, the keys to your cage jangling in slobbering jaws.
3rd – The Bygone Words
Archaism is a return to nature, digging wilted commonplaces back into
the soil – and finding sovereigns at your feet. How refreshing in this alien
realm where beardless blockheads in the emperor’s new clothes render
acronyms in lower-case letters – if one’s pupils are to be believed!
4th – The Repeated Word
Today you learn to automate your mantra. Proceeds flow to hospitals,
prisons, reservations. From any mantra you can tell the teacher’s gender
and graduation year. You imagine the seed word is Vedic, then discover it’s
Tantric! There should be a faintness, a melting like a cough drop.
5th – The Word Child
A smile for no reason, confusing in the absence of either joke or misery.
It’s private, like tears – bringing double danger to the honest apprentice
lost in the mirrored ballroom of secret conventions. You wonder where
you saw the advert: ‘Emotional literary lessons. Half-price. Guaranteed.’
6th – The Words in the Whispering Gallery
Theatrical whispers in the round are challenging even when you live and
breathe the language. Groundlings muffle the acoustics. You need to be
first or last in the queue to the sacristy. Reporters licensed for blasphemy
brandish the few choice words that will rise above the commotion.
All six – The Word and the Flesh
Host and hostel are not like flock and sky, more like two colours of smoke
merging. Either may start to disappear long before the other. Word has the
more obvious need, flesh the deeper. A person with hands touching, flesh
on flesh, magics away the difference, subject and object transcended.