‘Lie down in the word-hoard,’
Heaney said, ‘burrow/the coil and gleam/
of your furrowed brain.’*
I’ve never used a thesaurus
to write poetry
sometimes in my novel, when the correct-shaped word
perhaps I’m lucky
I think I’ve a thesaurus in my head
year after year
of languages, dialects and codices
some living and some dead.
First it was my native Cumbrian
‘Howst’ th gan on, Lass?’
‘Howst’ th gan on?’
Then all those Northern beauties
Manchester (no-nonsense, cuties!) then
down south to Epsom
‘Dawlin, Baybe!’ Essix nearby
Nowf Lahdan too: a cavalcade
down through the years, the Middle
and the Old
taught me to be bold
with my word choices.
Then there came the foreign ones:
my Grandma taught me some Latvian.
At school, plenty of French
a smattering of German
ich bin du bist –
how’d’ you ever learn them?
Arriving in Spain, without a word
I lost my voice, only to find it again
‘Memrise’ on the bus and in the supermarket queue
vocab-lists on the beach and in the hospital too
just don’t ask me to speak Spanish after giving birth: Ay, Madre!
Slovenian was difficult, but year-on-year
and a mother-in-law
taught me the hard way.
Most tantalising of all to me
are those dead languages
the Minoan, the Etruscan and
the Mycenean Greek
hints of fragments of words which once flowed like water
with now no soul nor any sense to speak
the territory of the scholar
realm of the treasure-seeker
and poetry, so many lines which
gleam like treasure to me
so I’ve no need of a Thesaurus, see:
though you may think I’m lucky
I’d contest, I’m simply me.
Written for dVerse
Tonight, Laura hosts Poetics, with a thesaurus-inspired prompt. I chose option two:
Simply write about the Thesaurus, as the above poets have – what it means to you; describe it, have fun with it. Let the synonyms flow, or antagonise with antonyms.
I’d never really thought about it until now, but it has never occured to me to reach for a thesaurus when writing poetry. That’s not to say I won’t in future. And as for the title, just remembering some bad dinosaur jokes…
Q: What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary?
A: A Thesaurus.