A Word A Day

by Gita M. Smith

He learns one word for every word he is forgetting.
Tremulous took the place of a brother's name,
and yesterday, when he blanked on the cities
where he grew up, he learned the meanings
of lambent and marcescent.

He walks outside in a green summer wind and says,
“I, with my tremulous legs and marcescent arms,
still love the garden's lambent light.”
Words had begun slipping away from him
years before when he thought nothing of it,
as those were names of unimportant authors
or cookie cutter actresses.
But newer subtractions frightened him
and he self-medicated with Greek root-words
with subtle meanings.

When the subtracting cost him Janette —
his daughter's name — he substituted stygian,
and when he could not locate Faulkner
in his mental Rolodex,
he wept and called out calumny.
“Growing old,” he told his nameless family,
“is like the Mariana Trench: The dark is bottomless.”