Orality: Little Treatise

This entry is part 5 of 18 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2013


Yesterday a friend inquired: Is it literature,
is it considered text when it is oral?

By which was meant the stories passed around like little bites
at a potluck: Who made these? they’re delicious! Like that, oral.

In graduate school I read texts dense with words: polysemic, intertextual, carnivalesque
— they made me think of markets in my childhood, alive with colors, textures, the oral.

How does the rumor of something sweet travel through the air? Beneath the limp leaves
and their shimmer, the hummingbirds make for the half-hidden feeder: nectar and the oral.

Teach a child the world through the mouth: first taste of flesh, round globe of milk
speckled with salt and sweat. Someone croons a strain of lullaby, and aural is oral.

The snake sends its tongue through narrow runnels; the point of the divining rod
presses, thirsty mouth at the source of water— Score another for the oral.

The mouth connects to the throat, the throat to the gut, that mainframe linked
to the body’s workstations and peripherals: don’t take it for granted, the oral.

There have been so many who dared disturb the order of the universe— You read of them
in history books, or in tales with many variants that come down to us via the oral.

Some were punished: like William Wallace in 1305, hung till nearly (but not yet) dead;
then disemboweled, then made to witness the burning of his own entrails. Visceral and oral.

In old colonial texts, the Cordillera hill tribes are described as heathens, as headhunters.
Let’s not debate; I only want to say, you eat what makes you strong; that too is oral.

The sages warn: be mindful what crosses the threshold of the lips— in that space, a whisper
might be housed; endearment, echo, secret, scream. Both power and tenderness, in the oral.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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