The bar grill type place was packed. Most likely spilling, dribbled down bristly gray chins into black eyes bruised roads. Double knuckle print lines. Just outside, summer approached, a dry hot expectation to follow the thirsty warm rash raising spring. The sun was down, below that distant ground, and rising steady over somewhere else.
I love words. I know it doesn’t take long to get me wrong, but try. Words are my passion, they are my paint. I sometimes have to shake the words out of my head just to see the world in light and colors and shapes, because it shows up better in letters. I love them. Yet I blame them. Words are the source of so much division. Ignorant about the only tool we use to pierce ignorance. Like cut flowers. Like shaped lumber. Like nails. We forget they were already buried before we plant one deep into the other, just trying to hold something together. We do not know the parameters of a word’s origin, so we are unaware of the cracks and flaws within. Let me dig up an example.
How about trust. What a trap we made trust into. I trust you, followed by a thousand different not to’s. Some expectation for perfection gets laced into that word’s particular function, so that trust is sure to break whenever and however you do. This hopeful, hypothetical, projected form of trusting is a dam you’ll soon see busting, not in fissures or spiderweb white spreading in concrete flats. It will come apart all at once and leave you washed out and puddled on top of a drowning town. Trust. Is a thing you leave behind for someone you love because you know you will die, and leave them. Trust. Is hopes and expectations. A promise. Bound and emphatic. Many different meanings writhe within the term we love to hold over other people’s heads. And then there is my pessimistic definition. Trusting everyone to fail. Trust being the bit of energy I’ve kept reserved to get through that day. So that we can love and trust one another on the other side of our greatest failures. I don’t give it out often. But when I do, I plan for it to be thrown back in my face. I trust it to. If there is a contingency in you I will not have the strength or time or patience to handle, I don’t trust you. I just watch. And wait. Trusting inevitability in your place.
Or how about life. Living. Breathing. Chest beating. Hunger eating. Bleeding. Bleating. Seeding and singing and clinging to this idea that we just live for however many years and then turn off. This is not the case. From the time you were an embryo stuck like a cut flower in the warm water of your mother’s vase, your body was sending signals to cells to die. Your life depends on it. A body’s ability to die on a cellular level is as critical as its choking for air or starving for food or withering with no water. Life. So expensive. How many animals died so you could make it out alive? How much death has life eaten? Plant flesh, animal muscle, bird eggs, thrashed wheat, ground corn. I don’t care if you’re a vegan or if you’ve gone so far as to starve yourself not eating, your body is converting life into death daily to avoid converting life into death more permanently. Just because humans manipulated tomato vines into delivering fat juicy wombs full with nutrition and liquid all ripe, does not make it any less life. What is life? What is the meaning of life? Life is good. Life is hard, but not as hard as knowing life is death. Death is life. These two dance under covers like lovers and we come forth in droves because of it.
Or how about good. Is sunlight good? Growing plants and warming planets and shaping orbits. Flesh melting radiation and electronic crippling solar flares and any planet without a filter stripped bare and burnt flat. Is garlic good? Try a handful.
The world, the universe, as we have known and continue to learn it, exists in spectra. Timing and quantity and temperature are most effective at taking a nice neat clean definition and mutating it into its opposite. Words cut from roots will wilt on the shelf in just a few days, no matter how often you change the water, no matter the light you leave it in. The roots of words are definitions. And are all gripping ground like buried iron, like living lumber, like uncut flowers. Meaning does not follow us into the house like a dog. It waits in the woods with wolves who do not view domestication as a destination, but a trap. Unforgiving and ever-evolving as the prey gets wiser, learns to steps lighter.
I am a writer. I am invested in words. And I am telling you, should you or should you not choose to get me wrong, words are nothing on their own. Shapely breath. Tickled chords in the back of your throat. A long time ago we began throwing sounds at trees and rocks and colors, waiting to see what would stick. Wood stick. Worlds tick like clocks counting up or down, dependent solely on what you want to see most. Only no. Worlds don’t tick, they roll, like dough, rounded in the dented palms of suns, suns rounded in the dented palms of singularities, singularities rounded, compounded, surmounted by the clenched fist of that great, one and only, universe gripping, paper space ripping, unslipping singularity that centers us all. All existence. Cradled like a baby in the bent arms of a star that shines out gravity like it was light.
And I see human beings, discounting newborn theories of everything, because the words just don’t come out right.