by Thom Satterlee
Language, he asserted, was a habitus... What
precisely he meant by habitus is not explained,
but the context in which the word is applied to
language would suggest a sense of "clothing... "
— Anne Hudson,
"Wyclif and the English Language"
All morning he read from a thick volume
propped on a stand. He read and he read,
and when he closed his eyes
he continued to read
until the words took off their clothes
and laid them down on a hillside
that vanished whenever a cloud
passed between it and the sun.
All his life Wyclif had wanted this:
The words undressed and he going to them,
a child to a fair, burning to see
if Faith wore her hair in a braid,
whether Why held out its hands, palms up,
and where Simony put his coins
when he stood naked in the light.
But no: Wyclif had gotten it all wrong.
He was not going to see the words.
They were coming toward him
with their arms loaded with robes
stacked so high he couldn’t see their faces.
And before he knew it, invisible hands
began measuring him with ropes
stretched between his wrist and chest,
from his hip down to the ground,
around his waist and around his neck.
The fitting took all day. He tried on
Son and Friend, Scholar, Reformer,
Heretic; he slipped into Priest,
wore also Doctor Evangelicus
and Morning Star. Some robes
hung too loosely; others pinched his neck.
In the end, he had to wear them all
and learn the sadness of being a word –
only one surface to show the world
while he lived underneath the layers
and listened for the barely audible
sound of his own heart beating.
P.S. I'm thinking of introducing you to a new character who
has sprung forth from my heart...a Poet Monk named George.
Tune in on Wednesday to see if he makes an appearance.