Wednesday, April 22, 2015
A friend recently asked me what my favorite word was. I had to confess that I didn't know. This was distressing because I so live in words that you would think I would know which was my favorite. But, like children or bicycles, how can anyone pick a "favorite?" I love them all.
That said, I decided to lie in wait, like a hunter on a game trail, for the right word to come along. Thousands of them passed by and each had its attributes, its personality, its charms. I could live with many of them. "Unctuous," for example, would have made for a fine choice. But I think after a few years, we would grow tired of each other. She would find me brutish; I would find her stuffy and pedantic. "Foreskin" has its merits, but reminds me of wounds too distant to heal. "Mississippi" and "Cincinnati" have obvious appeal, as does "Cucamonga," but they eventually irritate, like children with too much sugar jumping up on the couch while you try to nap.
Yes, there were many possibilities, but none of them had much staying power.
Then she walked by, and I was thunderstruck, or arrow struck, or bewitched, or had my heart taken prisoner. "Lazuli." It's the word I would write a hundred times if I had a math notebook in eighth grade and was smitten by adolescent crush. It held the secret and unrequitable rush of adoration that only a life's love could elicit.
Of course, she shone the rare, royal blue of her definition. I knew I could never know her or "have" her, whatever that means. I could only stand in her light and warm my hands by her heat and dream of forbidden and occasional liaisons. Of that, we could never speak, much less forget.
The grip on my heart was a vise, as permanent as a scar.
I doubt I have ever used the word "lazuli" in a sentence, yet I see it in the robes of royalty and the cloak of the Virgin Mary. It is the color of the Aegean Sea, the sky at dusk. It shows up as a rare bird, the lazuli bunting, here in spring. I have seen only one, and it looked at me from the fountain in my front yard that I fill daily as a practice of prayer.
Not surprisingly, "lazuli" is the root of "azul" in Spanish, and blue is my favorite color bar none.
How can I be taken prisoner by a word that I seldom speak?
I might chalk this up to a defect of character, my penchant for the "serious" and sacred. I, whatever that "I" is, tends to brood on solemn subjects. I guess there's a reason why sad music is called "blue." But that's not quite satisfying as the whole answer.
The answer lies in shadow. It comes at night, as I slip off to slumber, when I whisper her name-- Lazuli -- and I fall into the streams of the unconscious, where the running waters of poetry and the soul dwell.
The river runs deep and blue. Lazuli.