To the dear word missing from my dissertation title page.

Words have geography. By which I mean
that speech locates and orients the intellect.
As for the little words, brief and lean,
the small tokens: these we neglect.
And these we need.

Words have curvature, a shape and scape,
a felt form – figured in the shadows of the mind.
And the little ones, the small tokens – these take
us and move us through, bring us inside,
carry us along for our sakes.

A geography. Spatial and chronological.
Among and before; after and within.
Leaning on the little words: a topographical
map scaled by the grandeur of diminution.
The little words sustain us all.

But where would we be, how would we suffice,
without the smallest word – the forgotten one?
Relating space and time and more, whose price
we cannot gauge – because of these it alone
stretches past our geographic sights.

Of. Embracing and outmatching both hour and location:
of, that littlest word. The forgotten preposition.
Of. Constituting more than place and more than time:
grounding the geography, sinewing the why:
for we are the Body of Christ.

Anne M. Carpenter

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