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Page 172

We grow blank after passing too many words
we don't understand -- just blank, like a sponged-off
blackboard or someone who has just been told
that his entire family was in that plane....

When we are blank, anything -- any unreasonable
hatred or panic -- may be written on us. Oh,
we abhor even the vacuums that we become.
"Feed me!" we demand, and the world fills us
with misunderstandings -- better than nothing at all.

We don't like whatever, then, attracts our attention.
We disagree, not because we are able to disagree,
but because we can't agree. Our highest wisdom
has become a wary cunning, because someone
or everyone (whatever we don't understand
becoming a generality, an everyone) has been trying
to make fools of us.

In the absence of meaning, words become heavy,
solid things. We use them as clubs to bat away
or hatchets to cut to pieces all communication,
or we collapse beneath their weight, becoming
sullen, dumb masses, incapable of giving or receiving
communication -- like those, who, in school, sit mute
to the teacher's simplest questions, driving teachers
to despair.

Learning the meanings of missed words, we arise
as from the dead, shedding hatreds and leaden passivities,
feeling, again, part of the game, admitted to the inner
mystery of action. "Part of the game" -- for isn't it
a game? There are rules with which, it seems,
everyone agrees -- what a word means, when
to use it, how to say it, how to spell it?

And if you don't know what it means,
but don't want to be left out of the game,
what do you do? Pretend to know and pray
you don't say or do something that gives you away?
Admit your ignorance and PROVE you are stupid?

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