Do you recall the first time you called out that word, eagerly anticipating hearing your voice’s return? Maybe it was at summer camp, or while hiking with friends, or visiting a cottage by a lake. There is something magical about an echo. There is something arresting in hearing my own voice’s arrival, not from within, but from afar. In that first moment, when I encounter me outside of myself, I am ecstatic – I stand (from stasis “to stand”) outside (from ek “outside of”) myself.
Echoes are magical, not only because they are a low tech – and so a more satisfying – form of replication, but because an echo is a replication with a difference. My voice returns to me having been shaped by hills that soften, by cliffs that sharpen, by the lake that lilts my voice with sound waves that wash back to cochlear shores. Echoes introduce me to me with a difference. Unlike parrots, who mock me with their parody, and unlike an mp3 which freezes me with its cryogenic clarity; echoes inform me. They allow me the opportunity to meet myself anew.
Poems are echoes. Poetry echoes me by allowing me to hear my voice with a difference. Words wind their way through my body when I write a poem, when I hear a poet. The world comes to me in a different key when I hear this, for example. Poetry is language’s echo. It takes speech and twists it. Poetry rebounds words off the world. Poetry allows me to see from the perspective of a tree. It allows me to feel with a street’s point of view. Poetry takes the familiar and drops it off a cliff, so it bounces back to me shattered and true. I am left asunder in the wonder that words do what I cannot imagine. I cry out, and words echo back to me strangely familiar: strange in their refracted nature and familiar in their refusal to remain strange. Claiming me poetry names a new world for me. Echoes become me because I am beholden to the fact that even my words come back to me differently than I imagined they would.
Word makes its way as it leaves home;
It sounds the world as flesh and bone.
Word works love’s sway, it echoes true;
It marvels me with coloured hues.