The Innisfree Poetry Journal
by Lucia Cherciu
How Many Thousands of Words?
Hanker, desire, covet, crave, long for, yearn for:
in fall, when they took us out of class for two months at a time
to pick grapes, I filled one hundred buckets a day
and learned English words I copied in a notebook
then transferred on lists to carry around.
Groove, habit, routine, rut: each word released
the dopamine gates of the brain, each word pungent
like the dozen kinds of grapes we picked,
the distance between the aura of each meaning
like the grapes we tasted: Muscat Otonel, Căpşunică.
Grind, rasp, grate, oppress: the list of synonyms,
each word linked to the other the way a couple of us
stranded away from the group and got lost,
always finding our way back in the burned colors
of the vineyards against the sky.
Grovel, fawn, creep, cringe, wallow, humble oneself:
in ninth grade, I spent a year reading The Portrait of Dorian Gray.
When I found a new word
I wrote it in my notebook and added minuscule dots
next to the word in the dictionary
every time I looked it up again.
Grudge: stint, dole, begrudge, withhold: every word
came with its own aroma. A man balanced on top of a truck
inside a large wood basin full of grapes, boots up to his thighs
as he moved in the grapes, splashed, bent to pick up
the bucket I hoisted up to him, and he laughed.
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