BY THE WORD, Barbara Ruth

by Barbara Ruth

I have come to live by the word
the holiness of word itself, the spoken, written word
as it appears and as you hear
your ear to my tongue a stream of intent.

Last summer I went to the bottom of the world
without a map and with too many words.
I needed to make my way, but it was such a strange underworld.
It pulled me down to a place I could hear no birds.  Where words themselves blurred in my eyes,
lost their meaning, wavered, fell, in the stale conditioned air.

Because I could not summon my own words
true and tight enough to hold my water
others named my state.  They charted me, distorted the words I knew
threw new ones at me.  I was taken unarmored and naked. I had no defense from them. 
They stuck.
And so I came to be.  Almost, I came to be what they called me.
But I had need of myself.
I needed the self who remembers the bliss and makes the words for it.
I pledged my allegiance to the team of survival and now, because of who I lived to become
I do. I make the words for it.  It's why I came here
in the first place. After all. 

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