Sunday, February 3, 2008
Our Second Poem: My Name by Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Welcome to February here at poem! Our poem for the month is My Name by Aimee Nehukumatathil. It's from Miracle Fruit, her first book of poetry. * (In case anyone is worried, we actually have Aimee's permission (!) to use this poem! How cool is that?)
As a reminder, this week, all you need to do is read the poem and enjoy a lively discussion of it! Think about it, sit with it, say it aloud, read it to family and friends...then post your thoughts, observations, questions and impressions here in the comments section.
Next week, we will post a prompt related to the poem. The third week of the month you can post your links to your own "name poems," and after that...surprise, surprise, surprise!
At four, I was ready: fat pencil and paper, lined
the way I like it best--two strong sky blue lines
with a dotted line in between the two, a soft ceiling
for the tops of lower case letters to brush up against.
In New Guinea, to identify a person's family, you ask,
What is the name of your canoe? My seventh grade
social studies teacher made up a dance to help him
remember how to pronounce my name--he'd break it
into sharp syllables, shake his corduroyed hips
at roll call, his bulge of keys rattling in time.
I don't remember who first shortened it to Nez,
but I loved the zip of it, the sport and short of it,
until the day I learned Nez means nose in French.
Translation: beloved nose. My father tells me part
of our name comes from a flower from the South Indian
coast. I wonder what it smells like, what fragrance
I always have dabbed at my neck. Scientists say some flowers
don't have a scent, but they do--even if it's hints of sweat
from blooms too long without drink or the promise
of honey from the scratchings of a thin bee leg, feathered
with loosestrife and sage. I wonder if I've ever smelled
our flower, if the smell ever wafted clear across the ocean.
I would swim out to meet it, brush the salt and bits
of pink shell away, apologize for the messiness of my hair.