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Shortlist Saturdays: My Name Is by Marion Lougheed



My Name Is


When I was eleven I wrote my name on notebook pages,

tested other lineages on my tongue

a mix of boring bread and a spread made with exotic spices.


My own last name (my father's, yes, my sister's and my brothers')

has travelled with me all these years

unspeakable, unspellable in nearly every language

every nation, every school

Teachers muttered, muddled through.

Even paycheques sometimes added, doubled or removed a letter.


Later on my mother told me

for years I'd been spelling my middle name wrong

It's on my legal documents like a scar

except my birth certificate, I guess.

I'm not sure what to do with that or how to fix it.


Like cutting an orange into wedges with a dull knife:

a simple slip, the citrus juices sting

Red drops disarray the countertop.

It shouldn't be so easy to introduce an error.

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