Balancing the Words

The walls are like language. They are like fine tracery with the light behind them, like lace, and, in a sense, they are no different from these wordseach one lifted slowly into place and balanced on this page. ~ from Coventry, by Helen Humphreys

Balancing the words.  I loved this image from Coventry.  It’s what writers and poets do so well, isn’t it? take words and set them perfectly on the page, like an acrobat placing her feet oh so carefully on the tightrope,  making minute adjustments which those in the audience never see.   And while the walk seems effortless on the surface, it really entails great labor and intense focus. 

Some years ago I was dabbling a bit with writing poetry, taking baby steps into wordplay, and this same image came to mind.  So, on the final day of National Poetry Month, and in honor of all the wise and wonderful word acrobats (like Beth, Lillian, and Sandi) whom I’ve come to know, here is my little poem about balancing the words…


Blue line on white paper,
a faint demarcation
to order my thoughts.

I set a black word upon the line
so as not to frighten it.
Slightly breathless, I lift my pen
allowing the word to balance there

It totters slightly ~
hopefully, it will right itself,
settle into place with confidence and authority.

Just a black word on a blue line ~
a small offering
to a world outside my own.
A small piece of my soul
placed tenderly upon the line
so your eye may caress it.

Carefully now ~
it’s a delicate balance that word has achieved.
Go easy in your perusal,
Be kind in your assessment
~for it carries my heart.



20 thoughts on “Balancing the Words

  1. Becca, that’s so beautiful, truly. Thank you for sharing. Incidentally, I have just finished Proust’s first volume, and he is the perfect example of a master balancer of words.

    • Thank you 🙂 Your posts on Proust have intriqued me, and I have a copy of Swann’s Way on my shelf waiting for me. Now I’m even more excited to read it (and your review).

  2. Lovely, Becca–even the form fits. “A small piece of my soul…it carries my heart” reminds me of Yeats:
    “I have spread my dreams under your feet;
    Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”

  3. How lovely! That’s a beautiful poem, Becca, and I admire you because poetry is sooooooo hard to write. The greatest balancing act of them all, I think!

    • Thank you for your kind words. I too think writing poety is an amazing balancing act. I have such admiration for the real poets among us.

  4. Dear Becca, I think you should letter this largely on paper and frame it and hang it on the wall. Sometimes it’s a challenge that writing is only in books; it is art that goes where people can stop and see it and read it. Yes, certainly this piece! A lovely beginning to May, too, this poem is.

  5. WOW! That was truly amazing. I appreciate anyone that writes poetry because it’s so hard to get the words and the rhythm to flow.

  6. What a lovely poem! You capture so well the essence of the writer’s craft and how it intertwines with our hopes and our dreams. I love the metaphor of balancing words. And how right you are that what looks easy is actually the result of much labor and focus.

    Thank you so much for visiting my blog and commenting. You’ve got an excellent blog here. 🙂

  7. I like how you don’t want to frighten the word on the page! and that it’s a small offering of your soul. Every poem is just that. Lovely way to end Poetry Month, Becca!

    I write poetry too, and it’s more courage than I have yet to be able to send them out. I know how Emily Dickinson felt!

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