Almost every aspect of an inherited language comes from disregarded experiences: the physicality of the word blurt when someone first blurted the word, and the referential physicality of a word like “stunned” and “stunning”.
We use the word stunned far more often than we’ve experienced it.
We dispatch and receive every word with the speed of clichès, and I believe it’s the job of poetry to slow us down. That the slowing down is what can make prose poetry. Poetry brings us back to our bodies, to the microscopic, asemantic experience through which we perceive the physical world. Poetry inspires us to form new understandings and new questions—not to provide reassurance for concepts we’ve already have tucked into our pockets.
In the 1980s we learned that elephants communicate using a frequency that we humans can’t hear, but they’ve been singing all along. One woman “felt something” in the presence of the elephants, and began researching the very real physical aspects world beyond our senses.
There is so much we don’t know. I can’t speak for the elephants. Or for the trees. Or even for the mysteries of the organelles in the cells of my own body.
But I can and I do question it all from my limited point of view. I explore everything I brush against while holding the uncomfortable awareness of my own impermanence.
And I ask you if we have these experiences in common.
I ask: Is this what it is to be
imperfectly human in the physical world?