No one could explain
why the words went missing.
One day, during a normal conversation
over coffee, our brains reached down
To retrieve ______ from the
files, but it was gone.
We all felt there was a word for the
“emotion” we wanted to express,
And yet, no one could locate it.
We searched the thick fields
Of our vocabularies, but nothing turned
up. It was buried, lost, or both.
The next day, we couldn’t find _____,
the day after ____.
There were some who never knew
the words so didn’t feel the absence.
But for the rest of us, simple exchanges became
more and more difficult,
Worse was how we talked to ourselves
about ourselves. The precision
Of self-examination gave way to
ambiguity. Everything became frustrating
in part, because we wanted the words
that had left us. We were like
a carpenter who reaches for a tool that has
always hung from the same peg
but was suddenly missing or a fisherman
searching his tacklebox for
just the right lure only to discover a blank
space where the silver hook should be.
Induction revealed nothing. Our mental sleuthing
uncovered only absence.
The next week, seven more disappeared--
and it wasn’t just ____, as you
may have heard, but _____ and ______
as well. It felt like part of
our bodies had been stolen. We miss
the words the way an amputee
grieves the toe he rarely noticed, the finger
he used only when holding a cup
or pencil. Even now, I wonder about this
poem. We have learned to work
Around the missing words, but how long
will that last? Will ____ in the future
come across these lines and find parcels of
blank spaces, vacant lots between
the dilapidated houses after a hurricane?
We ____, but so far, nothing.
And so we wait. We’ve invented new words,
but, they are probably not the same,
Which means that our world has changed. We
are _____ people. And so we wait
Either for someone to find the words
or for the words to find us:
Compass and sign, beacon and _____.
It all hinges on this--we are what we speak.
Go ahead. Sit there in silence. We know it was _____.