Periphrastic Jungle

As someone who was often described as shy as a child
I can tell you that people had the wrong idea about (my) shyness.

Growing up, there wasn’t anything that interested me as much as listening.

I was unusually preoccupied by what happens
when words happen
to themselves.

Listening is what happens.

We don’t merely listen to this or listen to that.

Listening is the location. Listening is direction. Listening is what is reached.

As a child I was around talkers, especially my grandmother and her friends.

It was in listening I created.

It was in listening I began to say the words I heard over and over
until they became peculiar, exciting sounds
I could find another world in.

Worlds happened
when words stopped being
anything other than who they were.

It was in these moments of performance and possibility I felt I could be a writer.

I remember the day I finally came to realize that words were created by people.

That words had a beginning inside the earth, more so, inside the world, more so, inside a system.

And I remember how let down I felt.

I really thought words were innate, that words had been placed in man, and that we had to learn them, discover them, see what was already inside of us. I had thought we went to school to unbury words.

I felt disappointed when I started realizing words were on the outside and had to be impelled to the inside.

It was later I began to see that language is somebody else’s world.

and that language shows us how to live in somebody else’s world.

and that language gives us a way to live

Seeing language as reality made the world feel both unsafe and profoundly whole.

It was in this variance I began to feel more drawn – more urged – to poetry.

I began to imagine differently

I began to imagine

Writing is the last thing to happen.

Sometimes a poem will happen and other times words
and sometimes words for other words.

Other times there’s laughter.

I remember as a child people telling my mom and grandmother I was shy simply because I didn’t talk a lot.

But I was listening until all I
could do was become quiet
and imagine
if I could say any of this at all