‘Two Etymology Poems’ by Matt Mitchell

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THE ETYMOLOGY OF MOUTH

(n.)

Old English mup “opening of a gate to a country of teeth sharp enough to gash the moon.” Garden of thorns made from pink cheek exoskeleton; colony of cul-de-sacs at the end of my great aunt’s street; voice whispering jetstreams into the vacant sky; air filled with flecks of dandelion; the color of summer; taste of bare neck in early morning; lips split open in the shape of glaciers from air conditioner horsepower; what undresses my ribs & arranges my birthmarks into constellations; cathedral at the head of a river where I open the earth & sing my love into.

THE ETYMOLOGY OF NEEDLE

(n.)

Pharmaceutical jargon naedl “small, pointed instrument for carrying an ocean of life through the fabric of a body, etc.,” from endocrinologist’s mouth naethlo, literally “an elegy of permanence wrapping around God.” Meaning “piece of magnetized steel in a compass,” or ruptured artery in my thigh after insulin needle splintered through fatty muscle, or my translator for a death waiting behind a whole map of skin tearing.

Matt Mitchell is a writer from Ohio. His first chapbook, you’re my favorite garçon, is forthcoming from Ghost City Press in 2020. Other words he’s written appear right now, or will soon, in places like BARNHOUSE, NPR, Gordon Square Review, Frontier Poetry, and Glass: A Journal of Poetry, among others. He’d love to talk to you about basketball.