Emily Paige Wilson's debut chapbook I'll Build Us a Home is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Her poetry has been nominated for Best New Poets, Best of the Net, and two Pushcart Prizes. Her work can be found in The Adroit Journal, Hayden's Ferry Review, PANK, and Thrush, among others. She lives in Wilmington, NC, where she received her MFA from UNCW, and works as an English adjunct.

Emily Paige Wilson

Etymology of a Body

Skin: animal pelt, wet muscle prone to bruise and welt. Face: Vulgar Latin. Related to "to make." Related to form, figure, your father whose red hair is recessive. Eye: false cognate. Expose: set forth. Expulse: drive out. How our sickness does both with the slick skin of our pain. Mind: memory. Naked: to mimic the mountain as it falls. To feel full in the failure. Thirst: probably influenced by a verb. Thigh: high rise of the buttock. Phallus: boring except for its sounds, false blend, hiss at the end. I won’t even begin with vagina: how easy it is to see a woman did not create that word. Tongue: organ of speech. Eyelash: what branches the deer left when they licked the blueblack berries clean. Bone: Old Saxon. Old cornerstone burned in the cold. I came to the market of your lungs only to find it plunged under the snow. Name: protection spell to be traded, not sold. Skin: animal. Chin: nasty gymnastic of gossip. Murder: unlawful killing, secret killing. Wrist: But what good secrets have you heard that aren't unlawful?

There's a large etymological dictionary in our kitchen that I browse through for inspiration. I've always been enthralled by the origin of words: how is it we've come to translate, or attempt to translate, everything — colors, thoughts, fears — into sound? In writing this piece, I wanted to play with the idea that I could find an origin for the sounds we've adhered to our bodies. Some of the origins are real; some are not. My boyfriend, the poem's first reader, had assumed they all were real and questioned whether or not the title led readers to this same false assumptions. Isn't all language, though, deceitful in how it pretends to be precise? The etymology of "chin" here, believe it or not, is roughly true.

Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published monthly by Glass Poetry Press.
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