Word of the year


[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

e.e. cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)


A Canadian writer whose blog I read does a “word of the year” project annually in January. I’ve been reading her site for a long time; we used to live down the street from each other, and I’d often look out my window to see her herding her children off to school in the mornings, looking harried. We’ve never met face-to-face. She’s a person of intense, serial passions, and frankly, she terrifies me a little bit. I’m not certain I will ever have that kind of energy or drive. Her words of the year are usually expansive, but oblique, capable of positive mutation.

I have an ongoing list of goals, both public and private, that I roll over into each new year, like turning over compost. This year, my public double-yolk challenge agreed upon in consultation with my family (the members of which have themselves set impressive goals) is to complete and submit for publication three pieces of fiction. I decided at the last minute to avoid a physical challenge, since from mid-May I will be occupied with the incoming baby, i.e., fatigued. I feel like this project is doable, if difficult.

But I’m still hungering for a touchstone, a talisman, a theme. The baby-on-the-way is the first major change to my life in a long time that I feel I went about making purposefully, happily, deliberately, even though I know there is a lot of chaos and disruption waiting for me on the other side of his or her arrival. Last year, I did not feel purposeful, happy, or deliberate about much of anything. Before the present moment, the last time I felt like I was living my life, rather than simply enduring a series of events that were happening to me, was almost three years ago. In the time since, I proved not to have fortitude over and over. I despaired a lot, became pessimistic. I disappointed myself.

My word of the year is heart. As in, take it. As in whole, or open. When I read this poem of cummings, which I’ve only ever read as a poem for a lover, I think of speaking to another self frozen in time in early 2010, about to need and lose, or spend, a lot of fortitude, of heart. I feel that I’m inexplicably on the cusp of getting it back, and I want to say to that past self, I remember, I will carry your heart through this. To use less acquisitive language, I want to think of being heartened as a practice, an exercise. For what else will move this body through the year, and years to come? What can I give to my children, if not it?


For Poetry Wednesday.


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