…Then we were wect,
Riding on the moment-stream
As twoseafarers moonlight-wrecked
And gazing after fading steam,
Naked on an unknown shore
And walking in a waking dream
Unmoored from after and before…
I almost want to stop there, with those lines from Emily Saint Christopher’s “Late Diversion,” but a characteristic of being wect is that you keep on going, drawn forward as by an invisible thread or wafting on a thin streamer of smoke.
Wect is a word that appeared in English almost as if from a dream made real: it’s not quite clear where it came from, but it may be related to wake – if by ‘wake’ we mean the feeling you have after parting the curtains of a deep afternoon slumber and wandering sleep-stoned in the waning daylight. But really it is, as Emily Saint Christopher wrote, “Walking in a waking dream Unmoored from after and before”: a timeless state of mind, narcotized by the infinite moment. Awake but as if dreaming.
It is a word for the most magical summer evenings, when every passing light is a fairy and every nearby voice is trapped in an amber of warm sorcery: an hour lying on the grass in the slowly swirling dark, exploring the contours of the ground and grass and of the person twined with you; a walk along the beach in viscous air through passing strands of talk and music, the only shocks of light coming from sporadic fireworks or distant electric storms; a stroll through James Joyce’s Circean Nighttown, the dimmer corners in orbit of Harvard Square under the dog star, a swim through the night crowd on Church Street in Pride, or the tail end of an evening at EPCOT; a dip in a warm pool lit by stars and underwater glow; a walk alone or in a pair on the high empty deck of a Caribbean cruise ship at midnight and a half, staring at the rushing white creases trailing away in the borderless bottomless rippling blackness. You are holding a little detached swatch of reality, and you will pocket it in your memory to take out later and rub gently in your hand and dab at the corners of your eyes.
It’s a crisp-ending word for such a smooth thing, but such is language. Not everything is as you expect it; take what comes to you. This word came to me tonight, drawn from random letters; the poem and poet are my invention. It is a new old word. Cherish it and walk with it.