Ever since I can remember the words have been there.
Right from the start.
They were there on laminate strips in an old cigar tin that I brought home from school as I practiced pronunciation.
They were there under the quilt with The Famous Five as I carried on reading with a torch long after my mother told me to go to sleep.They were there from S.E. Hinton through teenage years of angst and woe. They were there on wedding invites and celebrations of joy. They were there on mass cards at funerals of people I’d loved.
They were always there.
They are here today as I write.
I write because the words need to come out.
They are a life force of their own.
They twist and turn and race and rush until they tumble into release. They have to break free. They have to. Sometimes they come faster than I can type. I try to catch them quickly lest they fall in the stampede and never see the light of day.
Then I worry that the words that are so ready to be made known are not actually the ones that most need to be. I stop and consider the ones that are still shy, uncertain. The ones that require coaxing. The ones that almost emerge but then change their mind at the last minute and retreat back into their safe place. I wonder what will become of them if they stay contained. Will they fester and bother me or will they remain content to be forever unknown? If nobody ever reads them, will they be less worthy? What determines their value? What if they are all exposed and there are no words left?
There are times when the right words can move me to a place of absolute bliss. They carry me along and lift me up high. They strike a chord with me that is so utterly powerful and in that moment I feel totally complete. Everything makes sense. It all comes together and I marvel at how I could ever have thought otherwise. How I could ever have doubted that the words wouldn’t show up for me.
Other times the words are stubborn and rigid. They refuse to flow. They mock me from beneath their shroud and taunt me by coming close, but not close enough. They remind me that they exist independently of my mind and that they have no keeper. They flirt outrageously when the mood takes them and they revert to being coy in the blink of an eye. They have no master or mistress to whom they are loyal. Their promiscuity is evident in the novels and scripts that they share themselves with, laughing as they get into bed with authors and playwrights alike.
They belong to nobody. There are there for all.
The words are chameleon by nature, ever-changing.
The words are wrapped in nostalgia. They grace history books with their rich descriptions of colourful pasts. In contrast they are etched in black and white in stark, bare stories that hold no embroidery over them to add warmth to their cold truth. They pay no mind to the pages that come before or after, only holding onto the letters that they are made up of.
Each word is bursting with life as though it were the first time, holding promise of what is yet to come. Crackling with anticipation, their allure beckoning like a field of soft grass on the first day of spring. Waiting to be enjoyed. Wanting to be experienced.
The words have the rage of a thousand angry armies. They have the wrath of a woman scorned. They have the ache of an unrequited love.
The words have the softness of a sky of marshmallow clouds. They have the peace of a Buddhist nation. They have the tranquility of a sleeping child.
The words are in the lyrics of music that lifts me, in the soul of songs that haunt me, in the heart of love notes from those that are dear to me.
The words are sprayed graffiti on inner city walls. Representing the voice of youth hungering to be heard.
The words are the secrets in a journal. The tales of suffering. The whispers of want. Bound in aged, soft leather. Held together with hope.
The words are denied by those who have no appetite to read them. They are celebrated by those who have waited with breath long held to witness their beautiful form and be set free by their wonderful certainty.
The words are a series of raised dots, giving vision to those whose eyes are unseeing, revealing joy to fingers that trace them.
The words remain long after their author has expired, connecting past life to future generations, their capacity to travel well never being compromised.
The words are rivers that flow into the sea, crashing as waves that rise high and roll low, their fluidity mesmerising to the voyeurs who enjoy them, leaving their residue over those that dive in with abandon.
I write the words but the words are not mine. I borrow them to tell some of my story.
I find liberation in letters.
I find solace in books.
And somewhere in the middle I find parts of myself.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editorial Assistant: Hannah Harris/Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Anthony Litterio / Wikimedia Commons