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Friday, July 24, 2015

Fishing For Adjectives

*Written from a recent HoW (House of Writers) retreat in Tualatin, Oregon.

Once in a while I'll hear splashing, here lately, something leaping from the still surface of the Tualatin river and slap-crashing back into it.

That's so like how words emerge, that perfect word, the noun, the verb, the adjective.

Which is more elusive?  In greatest supply?  Are there more people, places and things, action words, or words we use to describe these?

And what about the words to describe what we can't see, hear, feel with our fingers or taste with our tongues?

What about the invisibles? 

Show me love.  Show me rage and grief and feeling alone in a crowd.  What is that moment in the middle of the night when the distractions sleep, when that army of secrets we keep from ourselves rises from the darkness?  How do we show the closing of the distance between ourselves and the bent woman in torn clothes, or the battered infant limp in his abuser's arms, or the man in the Bob Marley t-shirt ready to leap from a bridge or into a fresh bottle of Xanex?  

What is the word for the encapsulating moment we realize:  We are everyone

It takes more than a word or ten to gather the invisibles, to show the tenderness of a mother's nails gently raking her daughter's arm, the soul of the collective, an ephemeral place or moment.  Sometimes it takes an ineffable journey, an every conceivable cover to cover trek from Big Bang prologue to dust-settled denouement, a first to last breath of all nouns, verbs, commas, periods, pauses, breaths; a leap of infinite space where the words are left out, where they retreat.

Sometimes adjectives aren't words at all, but in the ghosts of what we don't say, can't begin to say, just beneath the surface.

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