Many words are sounds made by bodies in action with earth and the water. Here is just one.

Drag. This ancient word reaches back to the action and sound of carving, most likely in wood or bone, with a hard point. It contains the hard hit of a “D” against bone (teeth), it’s roll backwards over resisting pressure into an “R”, which continues with the pressure of the palm of the hand (or the back of the tongue against the roof of the mouth) which pushes through into an open channel (“Ah”), both an open throat and a gouge in the material being carved, and then the kick of a “G” (originally in the throat as a closure in the channel, a voiced “gh”, as the pressure of carver weakens and the the material regains its ascendancy. It is, however, a long sound, as opposed to a similar chipping action, also from carving, known as:

Dig: This form of carving lacks the length of “dragging” and doesn’t produce a channel (or an open throat), so much as small, rapid, chipped-out holes, recognizable by the breathy “ih”, a sound all air and filling the nose. The channel is there, smaller than the throat, and in the shape of a beak, a cupped hand, or a tool like a pick or a hoe. Compared to that is:

Draw: This is the action that turns a “dig” into a “drag” by extending it into a line and giving it the strength of the arm rather than the hand. It is a dig dragged or drawn out. While in action, it becomes a:

Draught: This is the action of drawing a dig into a drag as it is expressed in the space (and depth) of a carved drag. It is the open throat and the air that pours through it, and remains recorded in the receiving medium as the:


Draw: The space displaced by a boat (which makes a reverse channel in the water). It is also:

Dry: or the absence of water, caused by the water being cut away (for as long as the sound, or the carving, or the boat, which holds carving in time) lasts. It is also its:

Draft: or the weight (or volume of air or dryness) pushed into the action, which is to say the displacement of the boat. Similarly, a:

Drag: is the resistance of the water to the boat (or the carving tool) moving through it, as well as the resistance of a net being towed and how the weight of fish within it draws down the boat and shifts its draught and its draft. As well, a:

Drift: is how much the drag of the boat is pulled offline by air escaping through the high “ih” into the nose, rather than the low “aw” or “ah” of the throat or the fully open mouth. When in the track, it is the:

Drive: or the lungs pushing air along (or the hand pushing a chisel). When in the air alone, it is the:

Drift: of sand or snow, blown here and there without a channel. Each particle in such a drift is said to:

Tremble: or shake, almost overwhelmed by the force against it that it can barely resist and only in small actions. When stretched long and thin, a drag is a:


Ditch: (a digging) or its wall, a:

Dike: and when curling before a chisel, a:

Bristle: or a curled hair, known also as a:

Dread: (or dreadlock). The actual turning that the curl holds is a:

Tress: and of course, wound on a bobbin, a:

Thread: or the continuous material from a thin drag, holding the energy of the draught as a curl (and so, able to knot and hold a knot.) In fact, the knot in thread, even the tongue that wets it to ease the eye and the hand into knotting it, is spoken in the word, which knots through “th” to the roll of the “r”, pulls through the arch of the tongue into the open “eh” and ties off tight with a “d”, just like the original drag, but softer, in the removed material rather than the hard action of formation.

All of these interleaved forms are essentially one word in various manifestations, not the “tenses” of contemporary grammar but a deeper manipulation that includes the body speaking, or at least echoing in the cave of the mouth, the language of the Earth and the language of the whole body as its representation: hand, arm, nose, throat, tongue, teeth, and so on, all dance out the connections that create meaning in this earth language. The “sense” that contemporary English makes of these words is a shorthand for this hieroglyphical dance. Above, I gave you the line of a drag that gave a boat and its relationship to the sea it cuts through. The carving of a drag, though, also takes place in rock. There it shows up as a:

Drub: This pounding breaks rock (and other hard substances) into small pieces. When applied to water, it becomes a:

Drop: or a small shard of water. We will follow these drops another day, as in this form they lead into a rich word hoard of their own, as does the shard that is the breakage off stone (We will follow that too), but for the moment, let us remember that in action a drop either:


Drops: or falls in a rounded form in the middle of the mouth, or:

Drips: in a slower, more elongated, thinner shape, more rapidly and repetively, forming itself in the front of the mouth without the rounded form, as water does when flowing fast enough off lichen in the spring (for instance). In stone (or another hard substance), it remains a:

Drib: or a:

Drab: or a:

Rusk: without the formative stroke of the “d”, the breakage itself held in a dry crust of bread which the teeth break actively in the moment, repeating the primal carving action, into:

Crumbs: the negative of the draft, or the throat (and which, predictably, get stuck in it) and:


Debris: or a great number of drubbings, notable for the long “ee” pushed out of the mouth into the air in front of it, or the shavings that come from dragging or gouging out the carving (or the word) in the first place.

As I mentioned, I will extend these terms into water through the gate of the drop, and through the striking of the stone and its shards, but while we’re here in the carving, leet us not forget the

Dwarf: always associated with hard rock mining and minerals, which is the draught that goes wrong, especially if it does so willfully as a:

Trick: or a lie, or a deception, or a:

Tease. One recalls a vein of ore disappearing in a stone or dwarf riddling a traveller in a country tale.

And, of course, through all of these manifestations, there remains the action of the drag, and the impulse that created it, which is known as:

Desire: which is also a bit of a tease at times, or even a good:

Drink: to wet the whistle or slake the dry:

Throat: which brings us back to the voice speaking in the drag:

and of course to water dripping, which is for another day. I will just conclude with the observation, that all these words are carved with the mouth, out of the body and the air at the same time, and hold that within them, and pass it on to others. Words are carved dances. They are work in the world passed on from body to body. In English tradition, through sound and the work of the tongue, poetry presents this dance, which animates and deepens or even counters the dance of “sense” or “meaning” of words and without which it is only inference and talk.

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