Friday, February 25, 2011

The Sea of Frozen Words


My poem today was inspired by The Dictionary of Imaginary Places, edited by Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi. Doesn't the title alone sound wonderful? The Dictionary of Imaginary Places. It reads like a travelogue of places you might be able to actually visit.

The Sea of Frozen Words was invented by François Rabelais in Le quart livre des faicts et dicts du bon Pantagruel, 1552. I used it as the springboard for the following poem:

THE SEA OF FROZEN WORDS
by Tabatha Yeatts

If you were to visit the Sea of Frozen Words
on any winter day,
you would see camera-draped tourists
embark from their sleds, radiant,
taking in the frigid air.

With gloved hands clutching picks and shovels,
they scratch their way to the letters,
seeking out their favorites,
the flavors that they can't forget.
They take pictures of each other, smiling,
holding up their glistening trophies.

Some people get a taste of laughter and dream of it all year.
Others find that confessions of love
fill their mouths with the most delicious sensations.
Risk-takers and thrill-seekers dig up desperate pleas,
heated arguments,
last words.

If you wait too close to spring,
you might miss your chance,
and only be able to hear
the remaining, hidden words
as they melt and float away:

sounds of bargaining and breakfast,
sounds of battles and birth,
sounds of the first night of winter
when people plan trips to the
Sea of Frozen Words
by singing out the most delectable sounds they know.

~~~

Sara is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up today.

14 comments:

Tara said...

A Dictionary of Imaginary Places... I could spend all day imagining its contents, and savoring that last verse of your poem!

Amy LV said...

I adore those gloved-handed tourists, triumphantly holding up their word-trophies. I want to go there...I'm so happy to have had the chance to do so through the porthole of your poem. Thank you! A.

Sara said...

I've seen this book so many times, and almost bought it. I never thought of it as a springboard to poetry, though. Wow. I love the last stanza in particular, the words that are melting and floating away.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

What a great place to find a poem! I especially like your stanza about those who wait too close to spring. Ah me to have lost that chance!

Pop said...

Wonderful poem, Tab.

I also see new words spilling toward the icy waters, awaiting their turn.

jama said...

Love your poem, and I'm fascinated by the book. Must get hold of a copy soon. Thanks for opening my mind a little, and thawing out some frozen thoughts . . .

Diane said...

Risk-takers and thrill-seekers dig up desperate pleas

I love the way this reads aloud. Good job!

Tabatha said...

Our power was out for nine or ten hours yesterday (due to high winds), so it wound up being an unexpectedly short Poetry Friday for me. Thank you, all, for your comments! Rabelais' world was a wonderful prompt. I have another in mind. I hope the power stays on so I can write it!

Krista Kurth said...

Wonderful evocative poem, Tabatha! thanks for telling me about your blog.

Marjorie said...

That is wonderful - I love the images of real, physical words still having the import and consequences of their meaning...

And the Dictionary sounds intriguing.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Oh, oh, oh--I don't know if I've ever caught one of your original poems, Tabatha. This leaves me looking forward to more--last stanza, bargaining and breakfast, the image of a a heated argument as a glistening trophy. So provocative!

Mary Lee said...

As I read this, I was imagining pictures I've seen of ice festivals in Minnesota and China...but with frozen words along with the sculptures. Fun!

Doraine Bennett said...

What a fun poem, and so very creative. I wonder where the travelers go when the words melt. I wonder where the words go. Perhaps we need a sequel!

laurasalas said...

Oh, this is fantastic! My favorite section is:

They take pictures of each other, smiling,
holding up their glistening trophies.

Some people get a taste of laughter and dream of it all year.
Others find that confessions of love
fill their mouths with the most delicious sensations.
Risk-takers and thrill-seekers dig up desperate pleas,
heated arguments,
last words.

I love your evocation of the different words we all choose, and those camera-toting tourists. Fantastic!

Must check out this book, too.