Today the prompt pushed for a (blank) of (blank) poem. About the same time I started to write, I saw that Dictionary.com announced their 2017 word of the year as “complicit.” It made me wonder what other recent “word of the year” choices had been, so I went back to 2010 and incorporated them into the poem. I think it came out a bit clunky, but it was a fun experiment. List of words and year below.
This year it’s complicit, and haven’t we all been? Not crimes — we’re good citizens. Pay our taxes. Don’t steal, or kill, or grab what we shouldn’t. But wrongdoing? Certainly. We’re all guilty. The difference, maybe, is a desire to change, but not so much that we tergiversate because then we’ll all just be in a bluster, spinning in our own indecision. It’s probably wrong to want it all — personal privacy, public exposure. Stripped and flayed. Secrets open like wounds. It’s part of our identity to take comfort in what we know, mistrust what we don’t. But xenophobia? It’s a learned fear. An unreasonable one. And I keep thinking of a word on my daughter’s French spelling test this week: étranger. Stranger. A noun and an adjective. Word of the year in a world I thought I understood, at least en petit peu. But I am guilty too, complicit and complacent. Je ne suis pas d’ici.
* Words of the year as named by Dictionary.com: Complicit (2017); Xenophobia (2016); Identity (2015); Exposure (2014); Privacy (2013); Bluster (2012); Tergiversate (2011); Change (2010)