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// not by any other name //

By Michael Elias

here’s to a name that has never been yours. let’s say ‘Charlie’

‘Charlie’ is playful; ‘Charlie’ is neutral; ‘Charlie’ is always pronounced the way

it is supposed to be when foreign tongues take claim of speaking you. ‘Charlie’

is the girl with the pixie cut haircut

who dyed her hair manic pixie girl pink

as well as the boy who reads books about bees in English

class because grammar doesn’t have the answer to how they make honey.

‘Charlie’ is foreign, ‘Charlie’s’ merit

lies where there isn’t a birthmark מ י כ א ל

it was not assigned to you, your parents never marked you with it

like the angel that touched an imprint above your upper lip. ‘Charlie’ never meant

anything more than a name. so here’s to a name that has never

taught you that the world might miss who you are by looking

at how you’ve been marked and then that the world

might step back when you claim loud enough that your name

is מ י כ א ל not מ י כ ל not מ י ש ל not מ י כ א ל ה

and I am not a boy I am

a creature so horrifying you might not survive looking at it

but how might you explain that your name

is not your destiny but your name

has taught you how to correct the assumption of you

and shape a different destiny than the one you’ve been born into

and it taught you that Hebrew might have a place for you

because when you strip it off its gender

you take away its power against you

and you communicate to everybody everything at once

your grammar skewed and unintuitive

has the answer to how bees make honey

so here’s to ‘Charlie’, here’s to the name

that has never given meaning to your poem

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