In her richly detailed One Writer’s Beginnings, Eudora Welty writes of taking train trips with her dad. As a child, she watched him chart travel time with his large gold pocket watch. Carefully, she held the “treasure” he would bring out periodically and share: his little metal traveling cup. She writes of filling it at the water cooler, of raising it to her lips, then … the clink of the metal tip, a “shock” to her teeth.
A shock to the teeth. I love that! So often we privilege our senses of sight and hearing, in writing and life, such that the others go unnoticed, unappreciated.
Here’s a “mouth moment” from a poetry workshop with third graders. The kids wanted to hear and read aloud certain poems again and again. They especially liked two lines from Eloise Greenfield’s “Way Down in the Music” (Honey, I Love).
Down in the bass where the beat comes from.
Down in the horn and down in the drum. (p. 16)
The kids giggled, hit certain words hard, whispered others, tapped their desks.
“So, what is it about this poem?” I asked. “What makes you want to say it, not just hear it?”
“BeCAUSE”–one little girl practically hopped out of her seat–“I can feel it in my mouth. I OPEN my mouth and the words … come OUT.”
So, feel that glass of water on your tongue, roll a few phrases round your gums. Shock your teeth, relish a tasty word. (I’m off to try this now. If you want, do let me know what you tried and what words you especially enjoyed.)