Tsering Wangmo Dhompa
This wor(l)d as an illusion                  (page 6)

Every now and then a slight dislocation occurs when I say a word out loud. I am uncertain how I sound to people because quite often they hear what I do not say. When I say pass, strangers hear bus. When I ask for board of directors, they hear poetry teacher. When I say pardon, they ask, excuse me? A word is not quite a companion, not quite an echo, or a twin staring back at me in the dark. A word comes from the body like breath, like saliva, and transforms. Surrendered to sound, it is free to take other shapes and sounds. Its unreliability makes me admit again the illusion inherent in assuming that what comes out of the mouth will be accepted in exactly the same shape and form.

In accepting the self and the forms around the self as not possessing inherent existence and quality, I am invited to experience multiple systems of knowledge, interpretation, and meaning. I can view language as a catalyst to free myself from the habit of form and habit of rigor. I can hold language as something not quite so holy, solid, and real. I can allow it its whim and volatility. I can write: the hare has horns. The sky is milk. My eyes are as big as the windows of my house. My sadness is growing in me like a mean-spirited potato.

Can and does a sentence need to verify itself, and if so, against whom and against what? Can a word like pulchritude be beauty or point to the beautiful on its own? What about ameliorate, loam, nostrum—words that sound or look one thing to me and mean something else?

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