I do not remember my own name

so whenever I hear a voice calling,
            I turn my head.

Unmake the bed
            open the window

When I returned from Paris
            burning behind me
I selected a single letter
            to tattoo upon my chest.

In the wind, my name sounds like a vowel.
            Everyone keeps asking what the baby will call me.

I find myself worrying about my nipples,
            how their textures will change.

It does not take long to recite the list of names
            of those who stay in touch.

I’m losing language in my sleep.
            I open my mouth, and words are plucked

from my tongue. Before I was broken,
            I planned to inherit the garden.

A guitar, dice, the scent of pipe smoke.
            We folded our legs beneath our dresses

and perched on the grass delicately.
            Back in the days when we knew our own names.

Copyright © 2020 by Valerie Wetlaufer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 24, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.