Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Name I am called

I reflect on names often. 
Names are power and naming art – fine, text or metaphorical - an underrated skill. (Graduate School paper-2002)
I muse about why I remember some, forget others. 
The power in dropping names. The cultural expectation of name changes.
The confluence of 1950's babies called Susan. The name that sticks 
from childhood. The name friends call you. The name that works best for the day job.
The name that estranged children of steps should call you.
It will not be a paternal title as that is not who I am.
Eventually it may be the name friends call me - because I have done what friends do - 
provide the safety net that enables life to be less harsh. 

I am not a girl named Sue.

Apparently Personal

A name I am called ‘chirps’ out
inquisitive about what I find to my liking
A watch behind the glass case, jewelry in a tangle 
at a tag sale, socks to make comfortable shoes...

I am a mystery that changed her life
Brought her into a zone, re-positioning home

She is daddy’s other little girl, the unexpected
continuation of a faded union, the turf
of parenthood. Still young, enough
to welcome mother in any carnation – recreated
But not familiar like flesh, or morning or cereal with milk,
Parent poured from the gallon jug.

She accepts nurturing 
like a school lesson or vegetable pills, easier to swallow.

Her phrasing of my first name becomes us
in its lacking, in its echo,  
in the absence of mother-less requests
A name I am called, retained since my girlhood, speaks volumes
In her step-zone, as we appear apparently personal
Like poems in the first person.

~ adele houston
1st draft written after hearing Maxine Kumin speak & share in New Haven  2001 International Festival of Ideas. She died in 2014 at the age of double infinity 88.

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