From the time I placed a plastic infant
in a stroller, I knew my name
wasn’t really mine. In school, I scrawled
Steep, angled letters between faint blue rules,
but like that broken center line,
the one stitched through the heart
of the letters’ hoops and loops and crosses,
I knew my name was only practice.
One day, love would deliver me a new one,
and I would pass my finger through a ring
and become someone else. Who was I
to keep a name I was born to outgrow,
like the shirts and shorts of kindergarten?
Yet I mistake myself for my old self
sometimes when I sign a letter
or a check, and I stare at the eclipsed signature
of someone I once was and could have been,
but for the rites of love and ink marking me,
one seated now at a kitchen table
in a slant of summer sun through a window
as wide as morning in a locked house.