When my ancestors began the work of me,I was already old. I was only a child,I swam as an eel, I tallied on fingers,measuring everything. I learned everything,forgot everything, made nothing matter.Consequences gathered over my several springs,over and over, winter bit into the possibilities.My ancestors took a great bite of me, but on I swam,floating, a wiring of bones, reaching out to salvage.I was a little boat. I rowed the bright river.I ran aground, I walked ashore, I stood upright,I rushed into the mysteries of childhood. Who dreamed me?My ancestors wander just behind me. They harp:What’s your name? Who calls you?No one calls me by the name I chose. The name I can’t remember.It’s the body that remembers, but the body never speaks.Tell us your name, plead my ancestors. We cannot live without you.My name? My name? I still don’t know.To call myself this given name would be the same as lying.
Copyright © 2021 by Ginny Threefoot.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Ginny Threefoot’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Bennington Review, The Cincinnati Review, Cream City Review, dusie, Guesthouse, Ploughshares, Poet Lore, Tupelo Quarterly, Under a Warm Green Linden, VOLT, and Zone 3, among others. Her work will be featured in an exhibition with artist Anne Lindberg at the Figge Art Museum in 2022.
Under a Warm Green Linden, launched in 2008, is a forum on the technical and ineffable qualities of poetry and a biannual digital poetry journal. Reviews and interviews with established and emerging poets are intended to deepen, illuminate, and complicate an understanding of their work; and excellent poetry by a diversity of authors in a variety of styles illustrates our conviction that poetry encourages an engagement with our deepest truths, challenges, fears, and joys. The title of the journal alludes to an image from Pier Paolo Pasolini’s "The Day of My Death," chosen for its balancing the terrors of being with the promise of renewal. In 2015 we expanded, becoming Green Linden Press, a nonprofit publisher of broadsides, chapbooks, and books of poetry with a green mission to give a portion of proceeds for reforestation.