A Thousand Names and More
“. . . and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field. . . ”
Even last week’s orange moon, a sphere that set so big
and close to the ground that it looked
like trees had birthed round fire into the sky, had no name.
What will we call this season in me?
I save words on yellow notes inside desk drawers,
whisper them in prayers on the drive home,
lay them on the table like blueprints before your father each night.
In another world, I could give you a thousand names and more:
birch, elm, chinaberry, bark. I’d name you indigo.
I’d name you linen and silk and November.
You would be book, sonnet, syllable, revelation.
You would be psalm. You, heartbeat, sacrament, silver, iris.
You, mango and stone fruit and soil and amber.
I’d call you the smell of burning leaves,
cicadas that sent me to sleep when you were barely the size of a peppercorn.
You could be named the ocean’s warmth against my ankles
the day I suspected you within my body,
or the word—if there is one—for my face after that
as I watched other people’s children swim around me,
considered what color your hair would be, how bright your eyes,
whether your voice would even out to song someday.
I’d name you pear and darling and babushka. You would be called moonlight.
I’d name you the way it feels when you move now within my belly,
balanced at the highest lip of a rollercoaster before it barrels to the ground.
I would call you that dip, that fall. That fear.
You roll in me like a great fish, a speckled whale, but also the ocean.
You, the dancer’s feet, but also flamenco, also notes rising.
I’d name you the last drop of wine in a glass by the fireplace,
the grape it came from, and better,
its vineyard swallowing up hillsides in promise.
You should be called the quiet force
that stills me when I watch your father move across a room,
my silent wish for a way to explain devotion,
as if words or names are ever enough.
Your name should be the same as white columns
on his childhood home, and I’d name you the lake from mine.
Bone of my bone, my child, my son,
I can only give you the word that others will say,
the one somebody will love when you become a man.
You are the poem my body writes on the earth.
From Five Points Volume 13.3