Monday, August 20, 2007

Gregory Djanikian: My Name Brings Me to a Notion of Splendor

No one could pronounce it
without mutilating spindling tearing
even my best friends would shrug halfway giving up
and always the long pause on the first day of class
after Dillon or Dinsemore or Dix
every face turning to me even though
my name was not yet called and mangled
in every probable way oh why wasn't I
Jenkins or Jennings something safer
and mannerly anything but this minefield
of letters set against each other sticking
in the mouth as if the fault were mine
as if no other name were as impenetrable
not Knoebbels or Steinbacher not Stoltzfus
or Schmidt how did they come to be
so inconspicuous who were they
playing kickball tracing maps of America
doing long division on the blackboard
as easily as if they were walking
across the street in their sleep no worries
no boundaries to trip them up no Mr. Bielfield
telling my mother I'll straighten him out
what was so crooked? even my past life
seemed now a dark labyrinth of passages
my grandfather standing on the wharf in Alexandria
waving goodbye and me on the great ship
waving back not knowing where the prow
would finally lodge on what rock what piece
of exquisitely verdant beach who knew
I would have to unravel the tangle
of circumstances that put me in a small
landlocked lumber town in Pennsylvania
face to face now with Joe Schunk and having
to explain the D was silent easy enough
to say once you got the hang of it but Joe didn't
and it was five or six fast blocks of losing him
down Hawthorne and across to Pine my heart
thumping and beads of sweat glistening
on my arms before I heard Louisa Richards
suddenly call out DeeJay to me from her porch
in a way that stopped me in my tracks
because nothing had ever sounded so good
and nothing came easier than to walk
up the stairs and sit down by her
and begin telling her who I was.

Copyright Gregory Djanikian. This poem is from the collection entitled So I Will Till the Ground and has appeared in on March 3, 2007.

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