I want to use your name

I want to use your name,

to explore its mysteries over hash browns,

to speak it familiarly among my friends,

to write it out on creamy paper in black ink,

to address you by it from behind, beside,

before, beneath.  Your initials hinting

at hidden meanings, like an EKG,

or the nickname given you on the tennis court

are only the beginning.  Let me show you

your languorous name, a tenor riff,

your juniper-scented name echoed off a canyon wall,

your name as a laughing challenge

over a good hand of cards, or embedded

in serious talk, delectable as butter

on the tongue.  If you permit, I will use it

in other languages, ancient, modern, electronic,

in each of which its elegance will show

to great advantage, but not as well, perhaps,

as when I say it low and unadorned,

only for you, and from a distance of

an inch or two, reduced to a murmur

whose syllables will warm

the skin beneath your ear.


You have as many variants on your name

as a stony cove has stones.  Let me skip some

into the water.  Let me be the water,

sliding in and out over those stones,

bringing out their colors,  making

the small ones rattle, the large ones shine.


       Karie Friedman

       From Atlanta Review, Fall/Winter 2007