AwkwardIt’s difficult to separate a wordfrom its meaning. Are the bowlegged lookand guttural sound of “awkward” awkward,or would it feel less clumsy if it tooka different definition? What if itmeant “scarce” or “shake” or “ball” or “waffle?”Or what if the word just didn’t fit withitself, and sounded too rough, with awfulgrating syllables forced together, butmeant something sweet and lovely? Wouldn’t thatbe awkward too? Or maybe not, if whatthe new awkward meant wasn’t shy or naffbut suave. But then awkward wouldn’t be awkwardand we couldn’t move cheekily forward.
BulbousBulbous means bulb-shaped. Pretty straightforward.But pronounce the first syllable slowly.Think of it swelling, bulging, straining towardyou. Imagine it engorged and still growing.It begins to sound sordid, doesn’t it?But those are all synonyms for bulbous,far more descriptive than the definitionfirst listed. They tell us it’s not justa shape but also a transformationwith descriptors specific only tobulbs and male anatomy, a relationshipthat brings the latter to mind when youthink of the former. It’s not simply chancethat when you hear bulbous, you look to your pants.
All poems by Holly Painter