Pinning Down

by Jill Peláez Baumgartner | July 31, 2005
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My names, a drunkenness of vowels,
l’s, ümlauts, a mélange of ancestries,
diacritics, an unreasonable stretch
of signature, this seven-syllable
amalgam, this roughhouse of families,
this farrago of Spanish, English,
German, this gallimaufry
of tree gardener, medieval shrew,
Pelayo’s son, this rummage
sale of dactyl and anapest.

This, what I announce near the titles
of poems or at their endings,
on office door and syllabus,
name tags squeezing it into the exquisite
particularity of syllables.

To be envied: the orderly
timbre of Mary Smith
and its portable anonymity.

But here, now,
inextricably attached,
I stumble after, as my names,
roughshod, wheelless,
go galumphing on,
vowel-net unfurled,
all of my consonants pushing ahead
like a lopsided cow catcher.