“I read you as every word I mumble.”
(Source: Sin Renter, The Book About You)
That line from dear Sin Renter is why I love poetry. When words from one life is able to touch the surface of so many others. A simple selection of words, put together like all sentences are put together, but with such power, such insight.
The Book About You is a short poem, broken up in different rhythms throughout, circling around one or more people in the narrator’s life. It moves from the visible (“I find myself unintentionally crying”) to the invisible (“I feel sharp pain on my lungs”) at the jump of a line; it goes through emotions (sad, happy, frustrated, bliss(?)) built around otherwise simple things such as a smile. Actually, the smile is the only description of this “you” in the poem. The rest is the inner and outer life of the narrator.
And that’s what makes this such a strong poem for me. When we come back to the last line, “I read you as every word I mumble,” it becomes clear how much of the life of others we make up in our own mind. When we’re lost completely in another person we carry them around with us, and we develop them, we grow with them without them. Once we finally see the person again, we’re at a new place in the relationship than we were last time, even if we haven’t talked to them.
When we speak, they speak, and slowly their voice becomes our voice. And that’s the reason why we become frustrated, infuriated even, when we talk to the people we love. Because they will inevitably say something that catches us off guard, something we have never made them say. And we realise that they are their own person, that they are not us. That we are not that One Person that we had come to believe.
And we realise that they too have the ability to carry us around like mere fantasies, and, far more devastating, they also have the ability to carry other people with them in that way. We understand that we might not be special to others just because they are special to us.
It’s the strength of poetry to bring such realisations, hidden in a set of words that might as well mean something completely different. And this is the reason why it’s important to give a poem the time it takes to really grasp it. There’s no telling if what the author meant is the same as what you take from it, but a great author always gives you something to work with. And that is also why I should have posted the poem in full instead of just quoting a line and then shattering the rest of the poem throughout the post – but I’d rather you go to Sin Renter’s blog to read the poem in full, as there are so many other lines worthy of an audience on that blog.
I ought to be working on an assignment, but I couldn’t help myself when I came across this poem and felt my own little life entangled in words coming from the other side of our planet.
I had to say something.