Home > Making Sense > Some Things, Language Fails

Some Things, Language Fails

October 27, 2007

……….Love, mainly; that thing that’s been strip-mined
by bards in adolescent coffee-houses and dusty agoras
for millennia, their scrolls monuments to glorious failures
of words to convey what it feels like to notice
……….the visible pulse on the inside of his wrist
(such shattering vulnerability in that spot,
the inner workings exposed, close to the surface
……….anything could happen,……….realizes the heart in response,
my god, anything, to this beloved);…..or the hollow between
her shoulder and collar bone, an explosion of beauty
so devastating the bottom falls out of the world
……….(she will leave me, sooner or later, but please god, let it be
later, just a little more time here in this hollow
……….where all is right with the universe);
or the daily catastrophes of witness that bestow
moments of grace;…..when the young man,
usually assured, stumbles and blushes, trying to speak to you,
……….and for a moment, you fall in love with him (he is never again
a stranger, after that); or when the young woman becomes radiant
……….under your praise, knows for a moment that she is brilliant,
and you love her urgently, happily, then;……………when your friend,
……….after a year and a half of waiting, calls and says: the adoption came through!
She’s preemie, three pounds six ounces, she’ll be okay, she’s perfect,
PERFECT, we’re telling her ‘pork up, Peanut, pork up…’ my god, we’re so happy,
……….and you cry, and laugh, and play the message twice,
and write the baby’s name in gold pen on a post-it note
and stick it on your refrigerator,……………or you receive a letter
……….from an absent beloved who, in spite of absence, makes your world
a better place with words spread across the page like coconut shavings,
like chips of obsidian and bloodstone and granite and apricots and honey-trails,
words that craft planets and sweetness you can live on for months,
……….(forever, really);……………or a stranger’s hair,
lit by sun, reveals itself to be comprised of no less than
one hundred colors…..and you die a little, because of it;
……….and your friends laugh at you, and call you hedonist,
a seeker of pleasure, a basker in beauty, but you know
it is worse than that, much worse:
……….it is that ……….in spite of all your craft and skill
you will never say it quite right……….though you will bloom
and die and cut back and bloom again in the trying,
and you will have joy because of it,……………it is that
……….in fact……………you have no skin,
and your heart — that stubborn, obstreperous organ — wears itself
……….on the outside,
trying incessantly……………in spite of everything……….to speak,
……….and you know, secretly,……….that though you will fail,
you will never get it right,
……….your hungry words…..will be enough.

by Jessamyn Smyth

Direct link to the mp3.

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  1. October 27, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    This is beautiful, and vivid, and so coherent in how it’s pieced together. I can hear a complete story behind every mentioned part, and I find that hard to do in my own work.

  2. October 27, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    I have loved this since I first read it. And it disproves its own thesis. (Some Things, Jessamyn Nails.)

  3. October 28, 2007 at 10:26 am

    Thank you, Katie and Chris (even if you are wrong, Mr. Clarke).

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