On Groaning

Round Tones

It’s almost onomatopoeia: sounding like its meaning.
Like the word, buzz.

on the way to an OU-ch.

It always strikes me when words contradict themselves.

Take the word, rock:
As a noun it means something that is absolutely stationary.
As a verb it means to be in movement.
Radical movement.
Movement with sharp edges.

So, back to groaning.
That can be agony.
Or joy.
Or so I’m told.

It’s fun to see what groaning is not.

It’s not howling
like a wolf.
Although that has wonderfully round tones, too.

It’s not chanting the psalms.
Though I can picture a monk who is especially tired
or overwhelmed with boredom
and just slips from music
to a rough, guttural sound.

A groan.

I can groan when I am facing something too big for me,
or I can groan when taken by delight.

Or is that a moan?
And not a groan?

But the truth is, I don’t groan.
And I’m surprised—shocked, really—when other people groan.

Like a tennis player, say.
His voice ringing out over the court;
over the people in the stadium;
Over the airways into my room.


Let’s face it, a groan is its own language
that we all intuitively understand.

From deep within us,
we respond.
That part of us that is still untamed,

Perhaps that is what is so wonderful about a groan:
the round, modulating tones

that comes from a place that we will never find.

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