Words

by Maisie Houghton

I love words.
It is a pleasure to say
mellifluous, fountain pen, recondite.
But there are certain ones
whose meaning I forget:
otiose, fecund, fungible.
These glint as mica in rocky shale.
I write them down, look them up,
then forget again.

Two hard ones which often drift away:
Venal and venial.
Venal claims one is open to bribery
such as putting your hand in the cookie jar,
living high off the hog,
having it all
without paying up.

The other is a sin
which one can easily commit,
slight and pardonable
says Oxford English
like sliding over the truth
or turning your back on someone you love.