When you use the word ‘flummox,’ for instance, your tongue is rolling across the same territory of every person who has ever spoken that word. It carries every sentiment every person has ever meant when speaking that word, plus your own. They say that every third breath you breathe contains at least one of the same molecules Caesar exhaled as he was dying.

Muriel Rukeyser has said, ‘The world is made of stories, not atoms.’ Think of the words, then, the same words you breathe that have been inhaled and exhaled throughout history. If you’re looking for a link, there it is. They are only shapes and noises formed into meaning. How many shapes and noises have crossed the tongues of those who have come before? And this exact shape and noise has crossed centuries to come to you, fully formed … Words say simultaneously too much and too little. This is why they are perfect for communication, most people’s lives operating in the uncomfortable balance between too much and too little. Nothing more precise.


— B.K. Loren, from “Word Hoard” in Parabola, v.28, no.3, August 2003 (via apoetreflects)

(via awritersruminations)

Tags: words