A talented student of mine sent me this wonderful poem. It’s a response to the weekly Writing Prompt, that mentioned the following quote from the Tomas Tranströmer poem ‘From March '79’ ‘Words but no language…language but no words’
In The Mouth
First it was like a mustard grain in the mouth
Then the size of pea rolling about in the mouth
Lost your words in the mouth
And found new ones in the mouth
Rattles on her teeth in the mouth
And soaks up her spit in the mouth
Their stories in the mouth
It’s the boulder in the mouth
As big as Dog Tor in the mouth
It’s grey and old in the mouth
Dressed in lichen and moss in the mouth
Spitting out a collective noun in the mouth
For language in the mouth
Val’s subject has really resonated with me, as last week I completely lost my voice for two days. I’d been struggling to express myself around a personal issue, when, quite suddenly, it dried up.
It was as if my body was saying ‘I’ve had enough of trying to make myself heard here, so I’m going to stop trying’. As someone who is usually able to mould and craft speech with ease, it was an interesting experience to be voiceless. Initially, there was a sense of peace in not needing to try and influence those around me via the spoken word. Then, my hands took over and conversed with gestures. We human beings are creative in finding routes to self-expression.
I found the silence restful- for the first day, that is. But then I started having to cancel meetings. My computer provided an outlet for my growing frustration as I stamped each word hard into my keyboard. I was suddenly struck, as if I’d never realised it before, by the immense value of being able to write. That ability to express on the page released a sense of relief akin to a mute given a blackboard and chalk (please forgive the stereotype).
Now my voice is back, I’m trying not to forget what the words mean to me.
The Weekly Prompt
Our bodies speak in so many more ways that just via our mouths vocalising. Write about a time when your body, or a certain part of your body, communicated to you- for example through pain, absence of pain, movement, stiffness etc… What was it trying to say? You might also find it interesting to write a monologue from the point of view of a part of your body. You might be surprised at what it communicates.
This article was first published on 21st May 2013
Photograph courtesy of Peter Reid.