Weight Bearing


by Susan Fuchtman


 

Before I took a breath, before my blood

rerouted, while my eyes were still closed,

my parents argued about their individual

visions for me, and after hours, days, after

questions and explanations, they stepped into

each other’s dreams and chose my name.

 

Adam and Eve’s first responsibility

was naming the animals, and even then,

before sin and brokenness, before

the veil was torn to make things right again,

sitting there in that paradise they proposed

and compromised and did the best they could.

 

I visited my parents yesterday, and if you

were there, at first you might only notice

their faltering gaits, knobbled fingers,

and unwavering opinions,

but as the day progressed, you’d see

they have not forgotten how it felt

to hold me, stroke my hair, kiss

my baby cheeks, to sacrifice a lifetime—

to give me a name.

 

I thought about all the names written

in all the world in all time—

charcoal on cave walls, quill and ink on papyrus,

blue ballpoint on number ten envelopes, crayon

on school papers, typewriter ribbon

on essays, sharpies on name badges,

pixels on phone screens, fingers in red dirt—

How does the earth bear the weight of them?

 


Susan Fuchtman writes poetry, memoir, and short stories. Her recent and forthcoming work can be found in Plume, Flights, Punchnel’s, and Stonecrop Review. She currently resides in Chicago, Illinois.