xiii. hope and faith
peering into the crib, i see that they look like alien meatloaves
but by now, i have learned not to say so much.
it's easier just to keep quiet and keep your
opinion inside, where no one can
ridicule you for it.
my father names them:
"hope, and faith."
hope and faith aren't as strange as my name
but they're not as generic as michael.
what should i say?
"give them a name like mine."
he smiles, so sadly
because i think he knows
that giving them a name like mine
will just make their lives harder.
my first practice is tomorrow,
my jersey has my weird last name on it.
everyone on the team calls me the swearword
that looks and sounds like
my first name.
no one passes the ball to me.
i run around the court, hands stretched out,
looking silly, being ignored.
the ball gets dribbled, blocked, thrown, swishing
through baskets, but i never
even get to touch it.
at the end of practice, no one looks at me
no one talks to me, except to scream at me
the swear that sounds like my name.
today a new girl came to class
her name was very strange.
no one could say it and ms. ly
didn't even bother to try saying it,
just placed a nametag on her desk
not even spelled correctly
just like me
we all stare at her.
she is tall and somewhat heavy, but graceful,
with inexplicably perfect
brown curly hair with a single white bow in it,
wears a gray cardigan over a white button up,
black skirt and shiny shiny shiny black patent loafers
she looks dignified, like the president of a foreign land
or an important member of the un,
or the leader who will command legions into battle.
she carefully places her nametag on her desk,
she notices us staring.
her expression does not change.
days pass until she notices
i, the other weird-name-girl!
unruly, wild, blue jeans and my basketball jersey
she smiles, she acts hopeful
people are mean to her.
her name, odd, her demeanor, too perfect
they ignore me, outspoken, my demeanor, unruly
i turn away and don't say a word.
i'm a robot, following my leaders,
trying to be a normalname,
trying to avoid this girl.
xvi. for the rest of the year
i finally made a score in basketball
february 16. my best! day! ever!
the team congratulated me.
i avoided the too-perfect girl.
she has found friends, also ignoring me.
there's no bond. nothing between us
but the whispered secret
of strangeness, bestowed at birth,
harsh in contrast
to the neat clean lines of plain boring PS 181 . . .
xvii. leaving PS 181
. . . where i just graduated yesterday,
there was a lot of unenthusiastic clapping
when my name (pronounced right!) was called
because at all my time there,
i was still friendless,
just a weirdo, who sat beneath a tree for lunch,
who saved her basketball team from being destroyed,
who read 34 books in ela when we were only to do 10,
who challenged ms. ly to find rome on a map (she couldn't)
who had three little siblings called michael, hope, faith
who punched the principal in the gut and got suspended.
here's to hopes and dreams of incoming 9th grade me.
at the graduation party,
i gather my courage.
i sidle up to too-perfect girl.
i say her name (hoping i said it right!), i smile, i walk away,
my basketball team says hello, says they hope i join them again
a weird boy calls out, calls me by my last name
asks me to marry him,
i shout at him, "you should get married in uranus!'
and laugh the entire way home.