This could be your first name,
this stain of nationwide popularity, this drone in the roll call.
Your mother holds a wishbone
between her belly and her friend’s,
holds a palindrome and knows that it could be your name
if it could split down the middle.
This could be your last name,
this last-generation cluck of disapproval,
this slippage of trade and mailbox label.
Your grandfather decides that light
in Germany is darkness in Maryland.
This could be your last name if your mother doesn’t bother to marry
your father, or the man before him,
if no man’s history migrates to her ID.
This could be your middle name:
your parents’ second thought,
your dead aunt, the mountain range
on which your family staked its view.
If you found someplace with the right acoustics,
this could be the trill with which
everyone echolocated you. All night long,
every name-blind pair of lungs shouting this thing.
You shout every word you see
and make yourself everywhere,
the empty cupboard,
the national landmark,
any street sign, really.
Cali Kopczick is a writer and freelance editor based in Seattle, Washington. She is the production manager and story editor of Where the House Was, a documentary about Seattle’s Hugo House specifically, and community place-making more generally. Her writing is out with The Offing, The Birds We Piled Loosely, Bone Bouquet, and others.