The Innisfree Poetry Journal
by Monique Gagnon German
Change sad into a new word, add a few
more syllables and I think it could sound out
with greater precision and charm, show
the truth of the sad perspective. The new sad
word would do more to evoke the texture
of the thing: the blue-gray layer of fog that settles in,
how the brain acts like a bag of saturated sponges
while the tongue sits acrid in the mouth, a damp log,
barely launching sounds at all before they rocket down,
shattering on the floorboards like crazed glass.
The new sad word would at least illustrate this:
that if you looked close enough in advance before
sad syllables fell, you might see the sad situation
for what it truly is, a collage of missteps, bad timing,
hanging questions and regrets, shaped by the pressure
of held emotions and isolation's jagged depths.
And if I were Webster or some important statesman,
I'd make the necessary changes to sad;
I'd be the most intuitive syllable creator.
The new word would rock your chest like a gong,
spread through your lungs like a breath holding on
to the truth of suffering as if it were carbon,
make you hack and cough when you said it,
so that others around you would taste it
just upon hearing it: ice, salt, smoke, leaves, poison.
They'd feel compelled to mirror-check the look
of their own health within earshot of it. I'm sure of this.
Certainly, such a powerful word would change the shape
of our common dialect, hard and multi-faceted,
it would shine like a skunk colored diamond,
it would win award after award, can't you imagine it?
But how long before the new word would begin
to morph, attempt to use its fame and fortune
to turn itself into some smaller skinnier word; size zero
text with no wrinkles or associations with death, one that
could walk the runway with ease and cover magazines
with only minimal airbrushing, a face with one letter,
a symbol or asterisk, an icon to garner instant recognition?
And then certainly from there, it wouldn't take long
before the public spiral and cheap publicity stunts,
nights out slurring, sounding drunk, trips to rehab,
and then a bunch of unsuccessful attempts for this infamous
symbol to get back to its roots and become respectable
again, just a normal word like all the others around it
that could just sit comfortable on the tip of the tongue,
unpretentious team of letters working together with no
extravagant needs at all, a word that just shows up
when the need comes, no costume, just itself in shape
and size one syllable sad, plain and simple, changed a bit,
no longer running wild, happy underneath it all just to be alive.
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