Namesakes // Appearances

Namesakes

From birth foreordained to

stoke family’s memories

your body the tie that binds them to

their past.

Called to replicate the original,

relative delight at specters

in your expressions, embodiment.

Double jeopardy should spirit fail—

disappointment in brother

dulling the shine of their golden boy.

 

Do elders see their ghosts in you?

Does their character seep in through

shared name?

What of bearing their tale is about

you?

 

Perhaps inspiration for continued, directed growth.

Remembering the dead,

honor the living.

Libations to ancestors.

Call the names.

Guidance across generations.

Appearances 

Whiffs of eau de toilette

brought back from Quebec City

hints of pea soup and gumbo from roux 

on immigrant tongues that Rs roll off

Faded sense memories don’t

reach across divides

 

of those who would not touch

on what they left.

Mom memorized enough French

to pass and make her teacher veut

la jeter par la fenètre.

Dad and I, eager pupils

reciting to ghosts.

 

So, Mom cooked from

scentless English books

never traveled so far North

or South

until I begged for crumbs of identity

left in New Orleans, Toronto

and Dad wanted too 

showed us home.

 

In the black and white photo

from Waterville that

I finger

Dad, Grandpa, Pépé remain

reflected in me

illustrate how I appear

as boy, father, sage.

Clark A. Pomerleau is a writer and teacher from Washington State. Memory and queer agency feature in his poetry. The poems for Poached Hare address how intertwined identity can become with family ties. Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature published his other poems in September 2018. Among Pomerleau’s works are historical essays concerning feminist views on sexuality and trans-inclusive praxis and the book, Califia Women, which addresses feminist diversity education about sexism, homophobia, classism, and racism.