After a friend tells me names and dreams occupy the same part of the brain, which is why we forget both.

It’s not an atomic number, your name,

it codes no secret core of you. Your name

doesn’t know any language of light, thick-tongued

like a spent tennis shoe; it holds no shape, your name.

Kill it and still there’s rising in the morning,

dark tea, sitting, never even thinking of your name.

In a night window, the quiet glyph of your face

can teach the dark no way to spell your name.

Like the well underground on my parents’ land

it’s been wrung dry for you, your name.

Like the flame that burns the candle,

the candle feeds the flame of your name.

O little no one, at what would it even point?

Sever the long string that ties you to your name.

Trevor Ketner is the author of White Combine: A Portrait of Robert Rauschenberg (The Atlas Review) and the founder and publisher of Skull + Wind Press.

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