The Name Museum
Mine was just inside the foyer, between the ficus
in its Greco-Roman plasticware and the rack
of local brochures, one promising the best pad thai
in town, and I knew that it was.
We were members, both of us, and so we headed
straight through the velvet ropes, past the ticket vendor
dozing in his glass box, to the vaulted chamber
of Charles, the plaster and gold foil
flaking now with age. I wanted to tear through the place,
down the halls centuries long, but you held me by the wrist,
gestured like a docent toward each name as we passed.
Catherine: Queen of England, film star, the saint
whose head we saw boxed and reliquaried in Siena,
your grandmother. David: Psalmist, Scottish philosopher,
Michelangelo’s passion, the man you once made love to
on the shore of Lake Superior in early autumn,
bathed in headlights and dark flannel.
Tristan: no one is really called Tristan.
Yours had a room of its own—small, tasteful
in that Continental sort of way, all soft lines and pastels.
You had always thought it would be bigger,
would house a string quartet to play your name
like a fugue, like a wedding song.
"The Name Museum" was first published in Copper Nickel, vol. 14.