Wednesday, January 28, 2009

today i learned that there is no word for clitoris in ancient Greek, and the first time the word kleitoris appears it is as an anatomical term in Rufus of Ephesus texts. Rufus of Ephesus, writing around the first and second century AD, lists the word kleitoris alongside three other synonyms only two still used during his times: numoe, a metaphor whose sense is “the veiled” and murton, “myrtle berry,” based on the appearance of that berry.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

“I am blind and so in some things I will not be as good as my father, while in others I will be better. I cannot read some of the books he could, but I have women read them to me.”

--Frank Stanford
(from A Son’s Tale)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Fifteen terms existed in Latin for clitoris, and the ancient Romans had medical knowledge of the clitoris, and their native word for it was landÄ«ca. This appears to have been one of the most obscene words in the entire Latin lexicon. It is alluded to, but does not appear, in literary sources, except in the Priapeia 79, which calls it misella landica, the “poor little clitoris.” It does, however, appear in graffiti.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

new year’s eve. a house carved into a hill, yard littered with beer cans. not a “party” but a “get together.” we arrive late, after spilled drinks, ashtrays too. soot on every surface. in the living room, twenty people sit or stand or lean their heads against the wall. as far as furniture, nothing but bodies breathing. i slip my coat off—scarf, sweater, undershirt. still i sweat. m. & i touch each other through a layer of condensation. the introductions begin—hi hello, this is, no, this is. where are you from? have you lived here long? the owners of the house—two couples—are of some vague age i can’t place. late thirties, early forties. details are shared, though, i’m having trouble hearing. the girl in the kitchen—yes, that girl—snapped her heel in half, lays up turned on the floor. although she’s had enough—the only single girl in miles—she is offered yet another. we raise our hands, tilt our heads. present are two boys from work & one guy i recognize from that snowy night at whitney’s house. i remember him at all: goddman kind smile, voice like closed eyelids. later when he sees the girl—teetering now in bare feet—he pulls her into a hug & asks do you want to step outside for a cigarette? watching from her perch on the kitchen counter, whitney says do they know each other? i mean, have they met before? one of the hosts shrugs not that i’m aware of.

as midnight approaches, the stragglers filter into the living room. whoever cannot sit, stands shoulder to shoulder. the drunk red-head kicks the edge of the couch then knocks over the ottoman. whitney seals the seam of her joint. where’s the lighter. the countdown begins. we all kiss. on the porch, the girl is throwing up over the banister; behind her, the guy sits, hands wrapped round her hips.

we drive home very slow.