Etymology of Zoe Farm
By Matthew Beach

They talk of radical renewal, but radical, you say, is from the Latin radix, which, like radish, has to do with getting to the root of things, so I dig my fingers deeper into the soil. Knuckles the color of beets, as cracked as carrots.

They say I need to be righteous, but I’m no measuring stick. You tell me the root of righteousness is the Old English riht, meaning upright or straight, as in, to fit a particular form, so I prune my auxiliaries and measure not the right of my angles, but the color and light of my fruit.

They say sex is the prime mover, but sex, as you remind me, is from the Latin secare, meaning to move apart, as in, from whole to halves, so I lie next to you, elbows in the dirt, like a pea pod split down the seam, closer to the roots than to myself.

They say I’m only as good as the company I keep, so we wait in the dark for the flea beetles to descend and bite our knees like cabbage and for the morning wind to scatter our hands like seeds over the earth.

When we’ve finished, the dirt under our fingernails will tell us we’ve been here before. The zucchini prickles in our palms will say we’ve only begun.

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Matthew Beach is a high-school English teacher, writer, and visual artist from Canton, Ohio. His poems and stories appear in The Prose-Poem Project, Metazen, Weave, Heavy Feather Review, and elsewhere.

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