In an effort to get people to look
into each other’s eyes more,
and also to appease the mutes,
the government has decided
to allot each person exactly one hundred
and sixty-seven words, per day.
(from The Quiet World by Jeffrey McDaniel)
Not a bad idea, if you ask me (but if you don’t, I’ll know you’re saving your words).
Think about it. What would you say, and to whom?
Having to choose so carefully, maybe our lives could become poems — each word weighted with meaning, each pause — a heart listening, each sequence — a study in metered restraint.
Gossip might cease, as would complaining. No more meaningless interrogation or speculation. No fat to chew, no axe to grind. Imagine a world where words become rare, precious commodities!
Every day, writers struggle to make each word count. Shouldn’t we choose them just as prudently in our daily lives? Could we harness their power to inspire good deeds, replacing their casual utterance with actions worthy of our intent? Then life, like a finely wrought poem, would be a work of art.
I hope you’ll read the rest of The Quiet World here, to find out how the narrator of the poem fared (sigh for romance)!
And just because I’m happy you’re here, here are two excerpts made of words I love. (A happy way to use 69 words of my daily allowance!)
it’s so nice
on the sliding ice
to sip hot chicken soup
sipping chicken soup
(27 words from Chicken Soup with Rice, by Maurice Sendak)
A sock is a pocket for your toes,
a vase is a pocket
for a rose.
A pocket for a chicken
is a coop,
and a bowl is a pocket full of soup —
A bowl is a pocket spilling soup.
(42 words from A Sock is a Pocket for Your Toes, by Liz Garton Scanlon)
1 stewing hen, about 5 to 6 pounds
10 cups water
3 tsp salt (or to taste)
2 celery stalks
2 bay leaves
In a large stockpot put chicken, water, salt, peppercorns, onion, celery, carrots and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is tender, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
Skim the fat from the broth. Remove the chicken, discard the skin and bones and cut chicken into bite-size pieces; also remove cooked vegetables, cut into small pieces and return chicken and vegetables to broth. Let cool to room temperature.
1/4 tsp white pepper
2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup ice water
4 T shortening
fresh parsley, chopped
In a bowl combine white pepper, flour and shortening; blend with finger tips. Add ice water and mix well. Spoon dough onto a well floured surface and roll it out 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 1-inch x 2-inch rectangles. Shake off excess flour.
Bring the broth to a slow boil, add the dumplings and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Serve in deep soup bowls with a sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley.
*Noodles or rice may be substituted for the dumplings.
(Adapted from Cooking with Heart in Hand, 1987)
Today’s Poetry Friday Roundup is at Mentor Texts and More.
“See how nature — trees, flowers, grass — grows in silence;
see the stars, the moon and the sun,
how they move in silence —
we need silence to be able to touch souls.”
~ Mother Theresa