Daily Archives: April 6, 2021

Naming

Breaking a name down piece by piece,
generation by generation.
It is stepping into the past.
The story as it was told:
Grandpa had to sign away his claim
to the Swedish throne before he came
to America. Then the story
of how they were farmers in Sweden,
but it turns out the farmers
were actually sharecroppers,
and the sharecroppers were migrant
laborers imported from Finland,
who came to Sweden because they were
starving. But the name, the name
didn’t say where we came from, but who.
Somewhere in our family history
there was a man named Anders
who had a son. Anders is a name
that translates roughly to Andrew,
and Andrew means ‘the strong one.’
No one ever says what kind of strength,
or remembers if he was kind
or moral or generous, or
if he was a brute, or if they
talked about his strength of body
because there wasn’t so much strength
of mind. This long, long forgotten
ancestor who passed on a name
diluted over and over,
from crossing so many borders
and boundaries and seas. At last,
when it’s impossible to tell
how much this blood carries salt from
what ocean, it’s time to start over.
A is for Awful. A is for Abuse.
For Anger, for Assault. For Absence.
For Abyss. Anxiety becomes
our family’s epigenetic
ailment, the aftermath of strength
that took a wrong turn generations
ago, a strength eaten by ants.
Or, A is for Apples and Allspice,
Apricots and Almonds. Somewhere
in our forgotten family,
someone stood on a ship over
azure waters and under skies
bleached to bright aquamarine.
Now, that was a moment worth being
remembered, worth passing on.