Let’s begin with a letter. E, for example.
None commoner. For effort. For excellent.
For eerie, for Eeyore, for entrepreneurship.
Empathy. Electricity. Ecstasy. Twisted sister
to M and W. Bookshelves. Business end
of a pitchfork. Signifier of the virtual ( in -mail
and -tail, -cash and -zine.) Grade you get
when you’ve given up. Number 5.
Third prime. “Ay” to the Romans; Epsilon
to the Greeks. Third note in the C scale,
otherwise known as “mi.” Sound of the scream
that sticks in your mouth in a dream.
All of the above. None of the above.
I’ve been doing a little stint as a guest presenter in a summer school American Literature class, and I gave the students an assignment over the weekend: come up with a short piece of writing, in the neighborhood of one hundred words, that represents an attempt to use words carefully in a way that interests you. I shared with them the first in the sequence of the 30 posts on this blog that began in January of 2008 when I wrote 100 words a day for 30 days. That got me thinking of trying it again. This is the result. I opened up the file and had no idea what I would write about, so I just started typing, “Let’s begin with a letter.” The rest sort of wrote itself, as I looked at the letter “E” and kept turning it over in my mind, looking for words. Most of the work was in placing and re-placing sequences of words, tightening the phrasing, and adjusting the line breaks as I went along. I owe something here to Charles Simic for his “Bestiary for the Fingers of My Right Hand.” Nothing too serious, just an entertainment.