Scratch February

I have dubbed February The Longest Shortest Month of the Year.  In 2004, I wrote a poem that encapsulates the feelings I have about what is nearly always my most difficult month:

Scratch February

Like a twitching itch on an unreachable patch

Of flesh, I jerk and spurt through

Twenty-eight days.  The sour

Stubborn silence of the soil

Mocks my languish, longing

For the euphoria of Spring still

Far off.   By turns soggy

And solid, bewildered by snow,

Then rain, then impossibly amiable

Temperance, the earth bows to the numbing

Power of interminable gray essence.

March on, February.  I am already

Out of step.  

                         –February 2004   

At the time, I was teaching poetry to three teenaged homeschoolers in a twice-weekly class in which we explored language, verse, rhythm, and practiced reading and writing poetry.  I wrote the above poem in response to
an exercise we did where we each brought five beautiful sounding words, and five ugly-sounding words.  We were to write a poem or two using the lists either separately or together.

The lists we had to work with were as follows: 

 Beautiful words:  essence, luminescence, cerebral palsy, piano, soil, croissant, tintinnabulations, silence, mystic, acquiesce, sorrow, languish, euphoria, fantasia, sashay, license, luscious. 

 Ugly words:  squelch, intoxicated, confabulation, gulch, kitchen, hack, gawk, puke, sour, ugly, gross, power, gut, rut, turd, scratch, jug.

We talked about auditory combinations that seem to be common in “ugly” words, like the hard “tch” sound, and about how words beginning with “sn” had a sort of slimy, nasal-y sound, as in “snot,” “snitch,” “snooze,” and “snore.”  Words thought of as “beautiful” often had the  “sh” sound, as well as other continuants, instead of the heavy stops of the “ugly” words.

 What are your favorite words to love or hate?  Why?


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