Monday, March 15, 2010


Needing to reply to you, I avoid the box where my letters must go. I can drive the letters into that corral. They'll be neatly herded into words, and the commas and periods will be nipping at their heels to keep them together. The sense is apt to escape when the letters shuffle themselves around, and run about baaing and bleating. You don't need any more chaos, so the sheep I send you had better be well-behaved.

Take care of the sounds and the sense will take care of itself--If only! I can paint pretty pictures and teach those letters to sing. Well-trained, they will arrange themselves nicely in that little box, and fill out the space with a nice pattern. The consonants will chirp their solos and the vowels will chorus in the background. But that flock of letters will bear no message. The precision of the pattern can't capture the flight of meaning.

Sense soars like a bird. Winged, it flits from one paragraph to another, alighting for a moment here and then flap! it has escaped again. Sometimes I can see it gliding in the sky, far out of reach. Sometimes it pauses on a twig beside me and gazes at me fixedly, with a beady eye. So close, I feel the air move between us. But the instant I move, it vanishes in a flurry of feathers. (One falls, and I pick it up to carry with me as a reminder: once I came this close.)

I meant to be writing to you, my words a net to carry you a message. But the net is too flimsy to carry as much meaning as you need. I'm not sure I even have such a quantity of meaning available. I have been searching through my drawers and closets, for some fragments to add to the pitiful pile I had in my head already, but the search has not borne fruit.

Still: I need to send you some words. I'll send you the scraps I could find. I'll send you the feathers I have collected over these few years that I've been chasing after sense as it flies away, leaving its song floating on the air.

I'll send you the echoes. Musician that you are, maybe you can draw the song out of them.

I keep trying to escape, fly like a bird myself. But I will sit still. I cannot pin down the sense or even the sounds, but for a few minutes, I can pin myself down, and I can write to you.

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