A Troubling Time

I’m a self-proclaimed word wrangler. I get caught up in the way words slide together. How they hook their serifs into lines of type.

A troubling time.

The spoken sound. Are they hushed, sibilant, sharp, cutting, expansive. Can you hear the wind between the letters? Do tears leak from crevices? Are splinters of anger shooting out in razor shards? Do green meadows unfurl under a setting sun?

I learned early from author/mentor Sally Brady that hearing your work read aloud gave a whole new meaning to stage fright. To be clear, she didn’t let the writer read her own work. Sally read it out to our group. The very first time, I shook throughout a full 10-page read. I learned that it was the best way to understand what worked. And what didn’t. I think good poets have an inherent ability to “hear words.” With enough years, I have learned to love the sounds of words. Sally Brady taught me well.

The enjoyment of hearing words is dwarfed by the meaning of words. In fact, “dwarfed” is a throwback reference to people of smaller stature, unfavored today. On the negative side of life, words are used to humiliate, to throw racist and misogynistic hatred. In the big picture, we have public persons who use references to Hitler and Nazism. In every case, every barbed comment, I believe that we need to believe that what is spoken (or written) is no mistake. Dissension and despicable intention live in those words.

In this climate, I’ve become vigilant to what is put forward. “Women should be homemakers.” “We will create a united Reich,”

At the end of the day, and throughout the days, I write. I work at weaving stories that grow into books.  Sometimes, I’m shuffling sentences for an article like this.  Tickling words into short passages for social media. In that spirit, I cling to words that make me happy or grow my lexicon.

There are great sources for word lovers. Still, Roget’s Thesaurus ranks high. The Aesthetic Logophile mixes languages together to pull in delightfully long German words, French, and little-known English.  “Embowered means sheltered by trees.” That sounds right. “Kaizen is the practice of consistent and deliberate steps to enhance every facet of life.”

I tell myself that I’ll use the word of the day, at least once in a sentence. So far, the sentence only happens while I’m reading the IG post.

The words I do remember? Those that refer to groupings of animals. A murder of crows is definitely a favorite of mine.  A cauldron of bats (homage to my daughter who is a bat researcher).  A parliament of owls — my spiritual inspiration. A blessing of narwhals. I picture said animals in clothes appropriate to their group names.

I just learned that my Koi fish, of whom I am quite fond, come together as a “troubling of koi.” Or, if you prefer, a “gasp.”  I am troubled only when their pond habitat needs attention. So far, they have not be a bit of trouble. I do indeed gasp with they raise their whiskered faces from the water, asking for more watermelon (a favorite treat).

In our troubling times, words do matter.

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