On winter mornings I awaken early while the sun sleeps in. I feed the cats, light the wood stove, and make my coffee. Then I systematically shut off all the lights except the halogen lamp on its long black insect leg that reaches from a mahogany shelf to form a bright bubble around my overstuffed chair. My backside sinks into the putty-colored cushions, sinks back inside the yolky softness of a hopeful leathery egg buried in the sand on a small sun-warmed beach. In my upright embryonic state, incubated by the flickering woodstove, a mantram seeps out on a small exhalation of carbon dioxide and unused oxygen, air I no longer need for anything except to float this one phrase: show me my words.
I love other people’s words, words in song, words in stories, words in poetry, words of human discourse, words about words. But please. Show me my words, on this morning, in this warm sphere of light from a small phony sun in the dead of winter, darkness ceding to another watery dawn. Show me my words, because those words are already waiting inside, strung into sentences like genes on coiled chromosomes, ready to be unwound, switched on, expressed as something new in the world, hatched into the wide-eyed dimness of morning.
Show me my words while my beautiful white-haired grandson sleeps. He had a tough night. At two years of age he can say chromosome. But his utterances are few, and lack depth, nuance, and context. His words are disjointed clusters of cells that were insufficient to describe the full animal of pain that settled into his body at bedtime. For this he had only screams and the spasmodic arch of his toddler torso. His adults could only surround him with love, wring their hands, make phone calls, try to decide what next. He decided for them. Some portion of his pain wandered into the night, and he fell into an exhausted sleep. Jackets were removed, car keys placed back in the car key bowl. When he awoke an hour later he cried, but his back was not arched. When he awoke again, his crying was reduced to fussing. Then all of us slept.
Show me my words, because I need to tell you that most pain is like this. I need to tell you that on those days when the warm egg of your life is pierced by cold needles of ice, the sun will rise, burn through the clouds, and those stabbing crystals will melt. Show me the words to tell you that someday, even in the immediacy of your anguish, you will know the hope of having your pain in the past. I need to tell you that your hope is as real as your life on this outrageously green, life-infested rock hurtling through the void.
Show me my words. Please.