Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Poem about Names

Last weekend, my friend Rachel and I wrote poems and drank chai and talked about wool and sewing and the beautiful loose ends of our lives at a little cafe in Oakland. She describes the whole event so well, with such grace, that you really just need to go over to Gate City Gardener this minute and read the post titled Real Names and Drop Spindles." There you will find her version of the following poem, and a description of the writing prompt we used, which had to do with names, and used words pulled from a pile in the middle of our table, inscribed and shredded, little strange surprises. Here's to contemporaries and to good friends, to seed-packets full of words on torn paper, to sudden May rains.
Here's my version:

My real name is Starfish.
There is a mandolin somewhere
in me, near the pelvis
it strums and plucks, it
reaches out its starfish hands,
sucking up salt crystals, aching for waves.
Swallowing the world into its heart,
salt-cut and bright.

Yesterday my name was Catch-All.
Star-follicles fell down
at night, near the moon’s growing
belly. They fell into my
clavicle, that small dip, they smelled like
metal and fresh bread. 
The cries of
young scrub jays, hungry, rooting
in the vetch, fell all over me. I
caught the rush of Amtrak down by
the bay in my hands, the wind and
what it blew in the window. The places
you kissed me.

Today my name is Bicycle.
My wheels are twirling, I can go
anywhere I want on my twirling
wheels. My wheels have spokes
and they look like passionflowers
when they open, and they feel like
that opening, sexual and unfurled,
completely mysterious,
capable of fruit.

Today my name is Bicycle.
My wheels are made of Hope and
Dream. Hope has dirt on her hands.
She is a little sunburnt.  She knows where
she is going but it doesn’t have a name.
Dream is covered in the young leaves
of indigo plants. When she twirls the air
fills up with the smell of jasmine and blue dust.
The wind is perfect in my hair. 

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