The World Seems …

The world seems so palpable
And dense: people and things
And the landscapes 
They inhabit or move through.

Words, on the other hand, 
Are so abstract—they’re
Made of empty air
Or black scratches on a page
That urge us to utter
Certain sounds.
                           And us:
Poised in the middle, aware
Of the objects out there
Waiting patiently to be named,
As if the right words 
Could save them. 
                               And don’t
They deserve it? 					
So much hidden inside each one,
Such a longing 
To become the beloved.

And inside us: the sounds 
That could extend that blessing—
How they crowd our mouths,
How they press up against
Our lips, which are such 
A narrow exit for a joy so desperate.

Copyright © 2014 by Gregory Orr. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on April 14, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

About this Poem

“This poem is part of a sequence of lyric meditations entitled The Word and the World. I’m fascinated by the spark and arc of connection between us and the world that words enact—meaning-making at its most intense, which is lyric poetry. What Emily Dickinson endorses as the poet’s ‘Audacity of Bliss,’ what Martin Buber urges as the spasmodic but sustaining power to turn the ‘it’ of things into the ‘thou’ of the beloved.”
—Gregory Orr