Saturday, February 28, 2009

Our Names

“I am trembling in this presence of your hate.”
—Jean Stafford


Names are sacred—
even to those who

hold nothing sacred.
We use them only

for others, it seems. Other
names are placed

in the open
for everyone to see.

Yet, between us
we have reduced

each other to
the barest minimum.

We wonder—
do we know what

our avoidance does?
Do we measure

the results of our
protestant distance—

our awkward attempts
at affection

or longing?
It is so easy for you—

it’s in your blood
after all, like

hereditary murder
or alcoholism—

to inflict destruction
and call it something else—

something innocent-sounding
and almost gentle.

Let’s call it something—
this cold distance between us.

Let’s name it with a name
we refuse to call each other.

And when we do,
it will take on essence.

It will be what we call it.
And we will find ourselves

whispering its name
to ourselves

in those nights
when sleep ignores us.

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