Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ironspine



What are the rules for naming a child? He was not named Calabash, Efficient Appliance, or Roadwork, neither did we dub him Starshine, Wind-sword, or Llama-sleeve. We thought of Grandpa, for one day he might be called in this way, though our own Grandpas had sailed past the buoys of mortality and out into the open sea. We thought of Electron Cuticle, Vibraphone, and Oak Heart. We thought of Jimmy, Sam, and Chesapeake Bay. We thought of Strychnine, Ironspine, Christopher, and Raindance also.

We knew there are a finite number of names in this universe, as if somewhere there was written a periodic table of elemental names. We name the new with the names of the old. And so our son was given his grandfather’s name, a name not now used in the present tense. They could share this name across the tenses, the present and future belonging to our boy.

A cloudless day in the cemetery, we went to mark the passing of a aunt. She who would be laid to rest near the rest of the family. Our boy, now five, wandered about the headstones pressing his fingers along the streambeds of carved-out letters. Then he stumbled apon his own name inscribed above a small blanket of lawn. He lay down upon the neat bed of grass, crossed his arms, and closed his eyes. He waited.

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