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Left Steeping

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She sits on a pedestal, placed high above the rest and obscured by cobwebs. If I look closely, I might see dark hair, cropped short and curled so tightly that upon further contemplation, she resembles a fixed statue of a Buddha, complete with a frozen smile stretched wide … and glasses. I knew her only for a brief two months, yet I've a lifetime subscription to her, and she comes every day, changing so finely that I can't remember what my initial impression must have been. Her memory is worn and faded, tucked into those stories she taught me to love, and every so often I see her waving out behind the gentle slope of an "a" or peering out from the white spaces between letters. I name her inspiration. Or, my fourth grade teacher, Ms. Kaufmann.

No longer herself, but a representative: the ambassador of stories and all the wonder of words, a congregate figure, the doorway to things that hold the whole universe—and more. It came in the form of pictures on her walls, images projected faithfully every week and a dozen inspired faces staring up. A scene with a hundred stories folded in between its corners drew the words out from us. Fuel for our story-making. That was how she taught us that an adventure lurked within our very minds if we'd only just try to imagine.

I imagined. Every night, every day. I spent all the time I owned thereafter imagining until even my dreams were in words. If I dream in words now, what must my dreams have been like before? Dull, I'd think. Dull and dry and senseless, unlike the things I've seen—or not-seen, or seen in my own image, or thought-to-have-seen. All images created by words and my beholder's eye, a gift from her.

Once, she told me, “You have a gift.” In truth, it's the only thing I remember her saying. Everything else is all laughs and smiles and those four words. She reached out, my life-sized idol, carved from flesh and offered her gift to me. I'm twisting her words, I know, but when I look back I only see her giving me my beholder's eye and all the wonders revealed through it.

A whole world of words at my disposal. Too many words, perhaps. They come knocking at my mind, strays, the lot of them, bothering me when I don't need them. When I do need them, they evade me and I must track them down. The result, however, is always the same. Always too many ideas to fully grasp any of them.

Isn't that just it? Too many things to consider, and life never slows down to let me reach out and grasp all of them. In one hand I hold steadfast to my words—the stories and books that are endless—and in the other … well, words again. I've been engulfed, left steeping in a brew for too long, and I can't wash the words off me now if I ever wanted to. They are all I know: words. Their shape and their form, the beauty that lies in such words as petrichor or gloam.

They all come knocking at my mind, regardless of time of day, because she taught me how to leave the door open. Like old friends they appear, all of them flickering briefly in her image.

Tenacity rests in my bones. My words will remain whether I cling to them or not. Two hands free. I can grasp whatever I want in life. All because I left the door open.

My life sized idol smiles at me from the corner of a page, blinks behind her glasses, opens her mouth and pours her words out, breathes unto me her innumerable lessons derived from each other and one central core: words. Words and what they bring.



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MrsP said...
May 24, 2012 at 8:51 pm:
You are an amazing writer--a word cobbler.  A student of words. Ms. P
 
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