Naughty Words

Dr. Samuel Johnson, creator of A Dictionary of the English Language,
often visited two sisters in London.


Mrs. Digby and Mrs. Brooke commended him 
for not including naughty words. What! my dears! 

then you have been looking for them? One of them, 
when she was ten, looked for the Latin word for lips 

in a lesser book. At twenty she blushed at clitoris. 
Decades later, now seventy—she looked for them again 

after pulling a white nightdress over her bonneted head, 
setting dentures in their place on the small bedstand 

& stiffly climbing into bed. Searching, but still not knowing          
biblically what she could have known beyond 

her tidy dreams—wild pleasure to her had been 
sieving bechamel that had separated from its cream.


Source: Subtropics, Issue 33, 2023. Edited by David Leavitt and Ange Mlinko.

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