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Monday, September 27, 2010

Secret Names


1.
I saw your name on the return address.
It was your secret name.
It was your old name.
It was three things: The name of a red-headed girl, caught in a Norwegian wind, fishing. The name of a girl whose lover swam with a blonde Anti-Sandinista to a secret island. The name of a girl who lay in the sun on her own roof with vinegar in her red hair.
You told me all these things about yourself, but you no longer used your secret name, and I hadn't thought of it for years, until I saw it scrawled on the outside of that envelope. You were submitting me a poem from a strange American state I never knew you lived in. Are you calling to me? Do you want me to remember?

2.
When I was very young, my lover made me a promise. He wrote my name on a white stone and threw it into a field of wheat.

"That is your secret name," he said. I didn't see what he had written, and when I ran through the field I couldn't find the stone.

"You'll find it," he said, "But only after you die."

Years and years passed, and I forgot about him. But sometimes at night, the sheets tangle around my legs like lashing wheat, and I can see the arc of the white stone, scything the air, spinning my name into air.

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You are truly great.