Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


[Where do words come from?]

Where do words come from?
from what rubbing of sounds are they born
on what flint do they light their wicks
what winds brought them into our mouths

Their past is the rustling of stifled silences
the trumpeting of molten elements
the grunting of stagnant waters

Sometimes
they grip each other with a cry
expand into lamentations
become mist on the windows of dead houses
crystallize into chips of grief on dead lips
attach themselves to a fallen star
dig their hole in nothingness
breathe out strayed souls

Words are rocky tears
the keys to the first doors
they grumble in caverns
lend their ruckus to storms
their silence to bread that's ovened alive

Credit


From She Says by Vénus Khoury-Ghata, translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker, published by Graywolf Press, May 2003. Copyright © 2003 by Vénus Khoury-Ghata. Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press. All rights reserved.

Author


Vénus Khoury-Ghata

Vénus Khoury-Ghata is a Lebanese writer and the author of many books, including Nettles (Graywolf Press, 2008), A House at the Edge of Tears (Graywolf Press, 2005), and She Says (Graywolf Press, 2003).

Date Published: 2003-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/where-do-words-come