This Word Is Earth

By Harmony Button

Begin with a definition: we know where to go.

We become thoughtfully troubled that despite being called “The Dictionary,” there is not only one, but in fact, many, many different dictionaries.  Like a child discovers that the authority of one parent does not always completely coincide with the authority of the other, so we find that The Dictionary offers a deceiving sense of unity.

We compare our parents.  Merriam’s spine is cracked and tired, and her pages drag.  We find the uncles online — Oxford & Cambridge — but they aren’t as popular as good ol’ daddy D-dot-com.

I introduce a source the students soon name “Ed” because the O is silent, like in Oedipus!

No, says another, his name is Owen.  Maybe there’s another Owen in his class, so he just goes by Owie D.

I am secretly delighted.  I make a note to self: in my free time, I should create a fake profile on some social media network under the name of Owie D, and only post smart and snarky etymological comments.

In my free time, I should drink less coffee, take more trail runs, sleep at least eight hours every night.  In my free time, I should read books and write poems and make my own veggie soup bouillon.  This is the myth of adulthood: there’s such a thing as time you get for free.  There is always a price, always a something you are not doing, instead.

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