I have words, miniscule and humongous, hiding in closets and hanging from ceilings in the maze corridors of my mind. I pull them out and dust them off, like lost treasures from an antique attic, admiring their structure with nostalgic remembrance before tucking them back inside the overflowing locked chests from which they were removed. Words like dodecahedron and Constantinople, limpet and wastrel; words full of tongue on teeth and bite on lips. Words that feel far too good in one’s mouth to share indiscriminately.
They roust me in the night like restless lovers seeking comfortable positions, nestling in together against their neuron blankets, cozily settling back into sleep even while keeping me awake. Words with sharp edges and lean lines, lush curves and pillowed flesh.
They wander sometimes, my woolly flock of verbiage, and I attempt to shepherd them back – at least to the very tip of my tongue – so as not to lose them to the wolves of ether. (It doesn’t always work. A bleating vocabulary is bound to be devoured by fiercer language, or – at the very least – strand itself on cliffs of ineptitude once in a while.)
Occasionally a word arrives at the last minute, breathless from running rebelliously about, and shows up in the nick of time for answering Important Questions with an exclamation point.
They are my constant companions, my linguistic menagerie. Palaver and chatter and prattle and clack, confabulation and conversation and colloquy and communion, repartee, observation, plaudits and tête-à-tête… I pet and cosset and groom and herd the hairy multitude into some semblance of obedience. (Even as I acknowledge that no tiger can truly be tamed and that elephants have a place in some rooms.)
Sometimes their acquiescence is as yielding as a deep-rooted weed, stubbornly entrenched in the fertile soil of my imagination. And, like me, they endure flood and drought, heat and freeze; they wilt and crisp and are torn from the clay in which they are so comfortably ensconced, but they will germinate again in the driest firmament.
“Semantics,” they say.
Ah, but ‘they’ don’t understand.
I have words.