Saturday, June 5, 2010

I Name This Place

Poem of the Day:
"Stranded" by Jenny Browne
What Have You Lost?

excerpt from "Stranded"

...My mother thinks my name is basil
thriving in the sun, ceiling fan stuck
on full speed, the persistence of mint.
In your dream my name is the leggy
avocado tree sprung overnight from
the firm shiny core you trusted...

Today was beautiful; I went to the Cambridge River Festival with several friends. We walked around, enjoyed the performances and crafts and what seemed to be an eternity of sunshine. But this post is not about today. Rather, it is about an encounter I had a few days ago; Browne's poem is just most perfectly suited for my Wednesday, not my Saturday.

I was riding the bus home from an internship interview when a small boy sat next to me, his mother in tow. He turned to me, with striking confidence, and asked of me, "What is your name?" I promptly replied with the obvious: "Audrey. What is your name?" "Calvin," he said.

I told him what an interesting name he had and, after taking a bite out of his cookie, he agreed. Falling to silence, I wished to keep him engaged. "What is your nickname?"

Calvin looked at me blankly. His mother, graceful in her keen intuition, understood that her son did not know what 'nickname' meant. "Calvin, what do Mommy and Daddy call you?"

"Oh!" He understood. "Cal!" His mommy and daddy call him Cal.

Browne's poem focuses on the concept of a name. From where does a name draw its power? I included the fifth stanza, what I like to call my 'Cal Stanza.' It reminds me of Cal, my four-year old bus friend, because I think Cal best understood what Browne is speaking of. He understood that 'Cal' comes from loving tongues, mommy and daddy mouths, and that it is more than a 'nickname' as I so crudely put it on the bus. His mother may not think that his name is "basil/thriving in the sun" but I think Cal knows that his mother imagines his name to be the finest of all things, the softest sweater, the coolest drink on a hot day.

A name is a gift bestowed upon us.

A Poem A Day Audrey


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