“Language is fossil poetry” Ralph Waldo Emerson
What is preserved unchanged
Words that are no longer words alone:
is monstrous in our eyes because our minds
amok, bated, beck, caboodle
druthers, dudgeon, eke, fettle
teem with hunger and are not sated.
and mettle, jetsam, spick
We eked the nature of T. rex by one serrated tooth
one fossil extracted from out the veines and wombe of the earth and no longer
part of the whole, so odd and out of place.
vim, wreak, ken and kith
The tooth reveals by its spick shape
enough for us to know a certain world
words separate, fossilized.
Hold each on your tooth,
each one wrought, then buried.
Upon extraction it is nothing more than itself,
Singular, and yet itself alone,
it is without meaning,
but extracted, lifted up, in that singular revelation, in that lifting from the shadow
it is wonderful.
Note: italicized phrases are from Pierre Boaistuau’s Certaine Secrete Wonders of Nature, 1569, and Sir Thomas Palmer’s An Essay of the Meanes . . ., 1606.