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An Etymology of Loss by Terri Linn Davis

Nominated for Best of the Net 2023


is a hungry word

opening up its mouth

wide enough to fit a

gold ring, a child’s

casket. A language,

this is the noun of measures:

see, deprivation—

and the weighted stone

of empty.

Imagine, now, its root

word’s meaning:

to loosen, divide, cut apart.

What is loss but a slipped grip,

but a shelter swept away,

but a satiated Lynx

beside a dog’s collar?

See, also, miscarriage

(the vessel unloading

goods not meant for you).


Terri Linn Davis is a poet and writer who lives in Connecticut with her co-habby and their three children. She has an MFA in poetry from Southern Connecticut State University where she teaches writing composition through essays on monster theory. Her poems are published or are forthcoming in Flypaper Lit, Ghost City Review, The Daily Drunk Mag, Emerge Literary Journal, West Trestle Review, and elsewhere. She has been invited to attend the 2022 Kenyon Review Writers Workshop for poetry, and she was the recipient of the Jack and Annie Smith Poets and Painters Award (2018). She reads poetry and writes book reviews at Five South Literary Magazine. You can find her on Twitter @TerriLinnDavis and on her website

Art by Andy K. Smith


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