Words I

J.S. Porter

How you write is how you breathe
In, out, breath, words

Words dwell within, indwelling
They spell us; they breathe us

Some words burn ; others freeze
English has no sex, but it has smell

The old words always come back --
Mother, God, friends

Do words have shadows?

The Devil is smart
He hides in bad words
Words you cannot see
Words you cannot feel

If a word makes you shiver
or laugh or wince or sick
it's not a bad word

Foggy words, numbing words, empty words
These are Devil words
Word as lullabye, as ether

There are no neuter words
All words are of Man or of Woman

Only a sexless language could create a Machine

In French life is a woman you woo
In English it's an it
Endlessly measurable, quantifiable, computable
Ize is the verb; ization is the noun

Words have echo, aftertaste
Auras, aromas, haloes and tails
Roots, stems and blossoms

They leave a scent in the air
And a stench on the ground

Some words cut; others bleed
For a living sentence you need dead words

The forgiving word, the believing word
The healing word, the saving word
These are God's words

God and the Devil are end words in our lifesong

Words make you live more
Or die more

Originally published in Canadian Literature, Fall 1986.

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