gnomon |ˈnōmän|nounthe projecting piece on a sundial that shows the time by the position of its shadow.  I found this word in a poem, a poem, obviously, about a sundial. 

I never heard that word. I love it. I love words.

I know that the stiffened ends of shoe laces are called aglets.  And I know that the wire shape around a light bulb under a lamp shade is called a harp. And I know that lagniappe is an unexpected extra thrown in, like the extra doughnut in a baker's dozen. Oh, and what's that lovely word for an oyster treat that late-drinking husbands in  New Orleans used to bring their annoyed wives to soothe them?  I can't think of it right now and I've made it.  I know the recipe.; I think it's in one of my cookbooks.   It will come to me about three a.m. 

I can remember the medieval word for a toothbrush -  for what was  used as a toothbrush - a scurryfunge. I like that one.  Gwyneth Paltrow used one in "Shakespeare in Love."  

A few years ago I came across a page-a-day calendar in which every day offered an obsolete, forgotten word.  I began to write poetry riffing on a word. Here's one of my favourites, the first word I had to play with: swarble

 How did we lose this one so necesssary

  to small boys

 John used to swarble

  all the time

  up a tree

  straight and smooth as bark can be

     no impediments no limbs no

      awkward branches just up

       in triumph

 We have a home movie of John


     or so I had thought

     but I know now he was swarbling

       up a stone pillar at the edge

      of the garden

       toeholds to be sure

         not much for a four-year-old

         It took a while but in the end

           he triiumphed

           he swarbled


            Now he is grown he climbs

            hills mountains cliffs and crags

            bluffs overhangs crevasses and chimneys

            rocks and ice

            never people


            You can´t swarble a person