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March 10, 2012 / Rae Spencer

Reading as a Sacred Art

Reading as a Sacred Art

If the words said nothing at all
You would still read meaning
In the spaces between them

Feeling your way through tangled text
Pauses and pronunciation
Bend under your touch
Familiar words flex into phrases
As hard to know as a stranger’s yesterday

Anything I meant to say
Is obscured by what you meant to hear
And the words remain mute

Captive in the spaces between us
Unable to convey
What I am saying
And not saying
The words do not speak

If anything spoke
It could not be written
Muttering along the margin

Reciting in the tongue of Eden
The first rule of words
Which supersedes both our meanings
That innocence and truth
Cannot lie together

Now we understand
As long as we speak in Eden
Say rib and serpent and lost

What you hear
Was not written here
Could not exist
Until it was lost and found
In your own experience

And if the words said nothing at all
We would still need meaning
In the spaces between

7 Comments

  1. anaslense / Mar 10 2012 4:13 PM

    I like your post although I’m scared of snakes!

  2. Snapshooter / Mar 10 2012 4:37 PM

    Gorgeous field…makes me think of Gladiator… 🙂

  3. kathrynmartins1 / Mar 10 2012 6:14 PM

    This is incredible, Rae. Just read it several times. I feel that the only way to read is generously, which is to read vulnerably. You have to give yourself to the poem or the story you’re reading. And as for the coveted meaning between the words, i guess our deepest hunger as humans is our hunger to know. And the only way we can read is to take the words into our own mouths. I love this poem. Thank you.

    • Rae Spencer / Mar 10 2012 6:23 PM

      Wow! I feel very honored that my poem sparked this beautiful, thoughtful response. Thank you!

  4. Betty Hayes Albright / Mar 11 2012 1:19 AM

    This is a wonderful poem, Rae – and I too often feel this way about the inadequacy of words. We do need those spaces between. Thank you for sharing – this poem is one that all humans (and especially poets!) can relate to.

  5. bardessdmdenton / Mar 16 2012 5:10 PM

    This is a wonderfully unique reflection on the experience of the writer and the reader. So true, so true.

    ‘Anything I meant to say
    Is obscured by what you meant to hear’

    Betty is right about all poets–and writers–relating to this. Those last two stanzas are perfect. Especially in regard to the reader ‘hearing’ what they want/need ‘to hear’. But perhaps in a way that liberates the writer too.

    Thanks so much for sharing this excellent poem!

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