Thoughts on time, language and other such slippery things

by Charlotte E. Wilde

I sat candy-land still, concentrating as a half formed idea crept into my ear, down my throat and into my mouth. I sat still, but there it stayed, caressing the sides of my tongue, reluctant to slip from lips, resistant to fingers and their pens, fremissante, patient.

I’m not sure how long it’s been, I suppose I’ve lost track of time; I’m sure the clock hasn’t stopped but the hands seem to speed and slow on a whim.  Time can’t be frozen, I remind myself, rendering it impossible to grasp, which is perhaps why we tend to metaphorize it as water– something that is trickling away, through our fingers, down our throats like this thought, slippery. 

I consider that perhaps my problems began with the letter V. I’d never been one for hard consonants, having always had a marked preference for easy vowels like A and E. Still, I tried it on, felt teeth slipping over my bottom lip, the mouth open [ɛ̃] , the sliding /s/ that seemed like the time, like the water, to slip not entirely away but into the space of the final /ɑ̃/ to which my accent vehemently refused me access. Yes, the problem began with that V, with mouths, with letters, with control.

It began with a V and it ended with an F. F for /fʁɑ̃s/, for foreign, for fear.

I’ve begun to conclude that while there are few things we can truly possess completely in this life fear is certainly one of them– we can entirely become it, allow it to become entirely us. Fear and time are similar in that way, at once impossibly ephemeral yet pointedly present, happily spiderwebbing anyone who pays them too much mind.

Temporal binaries and triptychs aside, I’ve a bad habit of living partially in the past, partially in the future and never in the moment. Still, I’m finding that where I’d tended to lose track in the hollow space of a vowel, I keep re-finding my bearings in the consistent touching presence, the constance of a consonant.

Perhaps the problem didn’t begin with V after all, perhaps it merely came back to meet itself at the root — cyclical, like time, a revelatory [re]solution.