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Word Play

I would rather see words out on their own, away
from their families and the warehouse of Roget,
wandering the world where they sometimes fall
in love with a completely different word.
Surely, you have seen pairs of them standing forever
next to each other on the same line inside a poem,
a small chapel where weddings like these,
between perfect strangers, can take place.
- from "Thesaurus," Billy Collins

This idea of words adventuring into the world, finding new meanings, new bonds between strangers, is delightful to me. You could probably replace "words" in this poem with "youth" and have yet another new construct on the idea of the universe of one personality discovering another. Today I have buckets of words on my mind. Pages and paragraphs - words still on the tip of my tongue, lost in the fog alleys of my mind on a morning following half-painted dreams.

As a writer, my days often begin with a long half-awake gaze out the windows at the birds, the delicate quail bobbing and dashing across the patio, the Scottie with his nose in the fresh scents in the grass. The days debut with half-formed sentences (alas, I've continued to write in my sleep, dreaming edits and scene changes, a keen line judge over volleys of language). Sometimes, to make sense of these fragile, half-shell sentences, or escape the endless cargo trains of coupled words thundering around inside my skull, I hit the trails for an early run. In the slant of early sun through pines my thoughts find tranquility. Colors and pens and crayons - pots of unbundled thoughts held aloft, midpoint, content to float until called into action.

Billy Collins' poem suggests ways in which words might be set free to find themselves and others, to play and adventure in ways we usually do not permit. Isn't this an idea for us to consider as well? Now and then set ourselves free to explore in ways that awaken us inside, that open our thoughts to chapels of new meaning and fierceness and beauty in unexpected places? I like to think so. Plot the constellations that lie beyond the North Star. Throw the shovel out of the sandbox and unearth the power of the silly and unexpected.

Why not find a simmering, chuckling, restless book this summer and see what happens inside? Follow those bird tracks across the white pages. Invite your imagination to a wedding.
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