Tuesday, December 27, 2011


When my daughter makes a noise,
I try to guess what it means,
And, if it means, if she knows
That it means and what it means.
I catch myself and wonder,
What do I mean, "what it means"?
What sort of thing is meaning?

As if I were first to ask,
As if there were no answers
Instead of way too many:
This sequence of sounds goes with
This or that sequence of things.
Goes with? Associates with?
Indicates? References?

Is there any better term
For the way words mean than "means"?
Never mind words that mean words
Or words for forms of grammar,
For naming "the stuff of thought."
How does a sound, a symbol
Mean, stand for, anything else?

The link must be in the brain,
Chemical, a thing itself,
Though at bottom are no things
Unless we call patterns things,
And we're trapped. What does "thing" mean,
Anyway, if not pattern?
One is tempted to defer

Like a French philosopher
Or poststructuralist critic,
Call the labyrinth a maze
With no way out, supposing
The maze itself is something,
A metaphor with meaning,
Word for word where we began.

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