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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Alphabet Sea

I like to play with words.


I used to have the colorful alphabet magnets on my fridge when the kids were little. I’d stop for a second or two and rearrange them into words that tickled my ears with their music. I suppose it would look funny to have alphabet magnets of pink, red, blue and yellow on my fridge now, with the youngest family member turning seventeen tomorrow.

But I think I found a substitute – a grown up version of magnets with which I can amuse myself. And, in fact, I don’t need a fridge to enjoy them. I can play with them online, to my heart’s content.

Magnetic poetry isn’t a new thing. These kits have been around for several years, and come in many varieties. We used to have a standard set, and the box would call to me.

I’d run my fingers through the words in the tray, like Captain Jack Sparrow with a chest full of Aztec gold. Oh the wealth of words, the things I could say, the power of phrases turned, just so.

So, I’d begin. Sifting through these amazing little magnets, I’d choose words that spoke to me, that inspired me to create a masterpiece. Word by word, line by line, stanza by stanza, I would construct a poem that would pierce the hearts of every man. Until, I’d discover that there was no magnet for the word “ebullient” – and somehow “cheerful” and “happy” just wouldn’t do. How could I go on? Limited, as I was, by the pile of words before me, when the one I wanted wasn’t there.

So, I’d pare down my project -- change and rebuild, as my limited budget of words demanded -- knowing all the while that I could build a masterpiece, if only there were words enough.

It’s a very disciplined process to write something great with limited word resources. I suppose I should do it more often. But usually I go to the magnetic poetry kits for inspiration. I sift through the words and pick out the ones that begin to paint a picture for me.

Words like deep, rhythm, ocean, stream and liquid. Yesterday, change, sail, remember and time. Piling words on the virtual magnetic board, I feel a surge rise inside myself, and suddenly, the words are spilling onto a page, and painting a scene, a feeling, a moment before me.

The days pass with their own rhythm
Flowing relentlessly toward the sea
You look the same today as you did the day before
Through the mist of ocean spray
But I know better
The surf pounds against the shore
Calling out your name
And you are ready to set sail
Time sets its own course
Yesterday is a closed harbor
Tomorrow is the only port of call
So do not linger here on the shore with me
It’s time to take to the water
Do not worry
Your compass will bring you home
When the winds change
I’ll be waiting for you here on the sand

I wonder what happened to that standard magnetic poetry kit I used to have. I miss it. I may have to buy another one, (or four) and stick them all to my fridge. With such abundance at my fingertips, I’ll feel rich, powerful, and passionate.

I love to play with words.

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