“The Screen Door Slammed”

A poem for how our names are younger
and older than we are, always, and the elders
know both our older and younger selves.

My strange name, two centuries doubled,
my grandmother’s name so much trouble,
can’t squeeze all the way onto medical forms,
jumps over the computer hopscotch spaces,
I’m not wholly me unless I hyphenate, re-
fabricate my name. This morning in the hall
my co-worker touched my hand and spoke
my whole name, home, wait, a few more
minutes, and I and the others ran through
the shaded porch, someone older called
our names, Don’t you all let that door slam
behind you! said, I guess I better get ready
to go, lingering. I caught myself, left hand
pushing the screen door, right hand waving
bye, goodbye, their hands slipping through
my closed fingers. Sometimes I walked
with them a few slow steps to the car door.
Why didn’t I touch them one more time?
Why didn’t I? My hand on her shoulder.

Minnie Bruce Pratt

Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivs
Creative Commons 2010

No comments:

Post a Comment