The Surface of Things

haibun On its 50th anniversary, the Museum received a gift towards establishing a Collection of Lost Words. The three curators entrusted with this project, feeling an overwhelming sense of responsibility and apprehension, set about their work immediately. At their first meeting, the youngest of the three suggested they might place an ad in the national press, or even tweet about it asking for submissions. The oldest suggested they go on a retreat together with hand-picked etymologists, philosophers, and linguists, in other words experts, to brain-storm. The woman on the team suggested they search online catalogues for words no longer in use. Words written on tablets and papyri, words from extinct languages. For weeks they discussed the relationship between words and the worlds they described; words and the worlds they gave rise to. Forbidden words, or overused words that lost their meaning. As a result of intense deliberations, a special linguistic search engine was built capable of scouring for lost words. It didn’t take long for results to start coming in. The first word to be returned was ‘love’.

cracked earth
last year’s seedling
yet to sprout

Frogpond 40:3,  p.63, 2017

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