“From the Dictionary of Nonexistent Words, a Sampler” by Kathrin Köhler

Words describing objects, customs, or actions that do not exist:
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     n. 1. The art of posing human bodies for use as furniture. 2. A double-jointed contortionist. –adj. 3. Enigmatic.
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     v. To translate a poem that has not yet been written.

Words that have not yet been coined:
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     v. To remember to breathe after experiencing extreme beauty.
see related terms:
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     v. To remember to breathe after severe fright has stolen one’s breath.
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     v. To remember to breathe upon suddenly waking from a dream in which one has been drowning.

Words describing events that have not yet come to pass:
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     1. Translation: “the Snow that Buries the World”. — v. or n. 2. Apocalypse by glaciation.

Words of phenomena not yet discovered:
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     n. The phenomenon in which words known only to the very young are rendered incomprehensible when the language and speech centers of the brain develop and these words are thus forgotten.

Words known only to the very young which are rendered incomprehensible and thus forgotten upon development of the language and speech centers of the brain:
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     n. The universal wonder of opening closed doors.

Words coined by those whose death is imminent and have therefore never been recorded:
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     n. The sigh that is released after the decision has been reached to end one’s life.

Words resulting in the immediate paralysis or death of the speaker and hearer:
– [word removed]
     [definition unavailable]

Words of such succinct onomatopoeia the words are rendered unspeakable, unable to be heard, or unable to be written:
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     1. Translation: “the Silence None Can Hear”. —n. 2. Silence that exists only in the complete absence of all things. 3. Empty space.
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     adj. 1. Refraining from producing vocal speech or sound; mute. 2. Inexpressible. —n. 3. That which can only exist in the absence of sound.
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     adj. Without representation or paradigm.

Words for which we do not exist in the proper dimension:
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     (indeterminable) The exterior which is reflected internally in translucent substances residing in undifferentiated space.

black-widow-baby Kathrin Köhler is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop and holds a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin in English. Their work has appeared in Interfictions, Stone Telling, Strange Horizons, Liminality, and The Book Smugglers‘ First Contact issue. Kathrin writes to explore ideas like what it means to belong, how we internalize social power structures, and how we conceive of and interact with nature. They are inordinately interested in things “between.” Occasionally they post at theliteratecondition.wordpress.com.
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    • Lisa

      Kathrin – this poem reminded me of Ursula K. Le Guin’s introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness: “Fiction writers, at least in their braver moments, do desire the truth: to know it, speak it, serve it. But they go about it in a peculiar and devious way, which consists in inventing persons, places, and events which never did and never will exist or occur, and tell about these fictions in detail and at length and with a great deal of emotion, and when they say they are done writing down this pack of lies they say, There! That’s the truth!” What you have done here: to tell the truth by telling it even without words we need to tell it. So lovely. Thank you.