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.