Day 14: Words

Over the weekend I saw the movie “Words and Pictures” with Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche.

A talented English teacher, who drinks too much and writes too little, falls for an art teacher who struggles against her own body to paint. A battle is waged: do words matter more or do pictures?

It’s a love story that made me love words even more.

Words fill the places chocolate can’t reach. I sat on my backyard swing and savored just one poem, just one. To read too many poems at once is to eat an entire box of chocolates. Eating more than one piece blurs the taste of the next one. 

This morsel from Billy Collins was the perfect piece of fudge for my soul:


was what they called you in high school
if you tripped on a shoelace in the hall
and all your books went flying.

Or if you walked into an open locker door
you would be known as Einstein,
who imagined riding a streetcar into infinity.

Later, genius became someone
who could take a sliver of chalk and square pi
a hundred places out beyond the decimal point,

or someone painting on his back on a scaffold,
or a man drawing a waterwheel in a margin,
or spinning out a little night music.

But earlier this week on a wooded path,
I thought the swans afloat on the reservoir
were the true geniuses,

the ones who had figured out how to fly,
how to be both beautiful and brutal,
and how to mate for life.

Twenty-four geniuses in all,
for I numbered them as Yeats had done,
deployed upon the calm, crystalline surface--

forty-eight if we count their still reflections,
or an even fifty if you want to toss in me
and the dog running up ahead,

who were smart enough to be out
that morning--she sniffing the ground,

me with my head up in the light morning breeze.