A Congregation of Words in Silence

There are a few moments just before dawn, when everything is damped down and quiet.  I don’t often see those moments, but a few times a year it creeps up on me, when I’m camped at a burn, after raucous partying, after play fights with friends and long talks into the night, after the thud and thunder of the music has died away.  After the rush is over, and the bonfires have burned low, and everyone who is still awake is dragging themselves to sleep, not quite able to hop the fence into unconsciousness… that’s the hour where a kind of quiet and solitude lives, that sits like a soap bubble in my hair, and I fear to move too much— I might pop it.

This is also where the words live.  Not just any words, but the thick words, the juicy ones that lay next to one another in strips we take for verse.  This is where they rest before dispersing into the day.  This is where they gather.

And like I said, only a few times a year am I there to see them in this state, myself crisped around the edges from long wakeful hours.  You don’t catch the words here.  You don’t capture them.  No.  You sit with them, and maybe sing a few songs with them.  And then, with care and respect, you invite them along with you.  Usually, they’ll agree, even if your singing voice is terrible.

So that’s the hour you can find them, and only in the kind of quiet that follows the truly wild and uproarious.  And you can’t force them; no one forces a poem.  It comes out wrong.  But if you can learn to sit with the words in their own time, they’ll often come to you in yours.

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