Naming What Counts

I devised my first pedigree chart

when I was 10, a project

in the Camp Fire Girls

which promised a bead

upon completion. I collected

these colorful wooden signs

of accomplishment with ardor,

sewing them on a felt

vest, so proud of its weighty

importance when I donned it every Tuesday.

Of course, a chart of ancestors

is never done, reaching back

into the mists of time.

It only dawned on me slowly,

the deliberate erasure

of women who bore all these

children blessed with their fathers’

names, while the one that proved

her bloodline was lost.

Here lies Jane, loving mother

and daughter. She gave up her

identity for food and shelter

graciously bestowed by her father

and then her husband. Her mother

doesn’t really matter, let’s forget

about her. Disappointing tombstones.

I have spent so many hours

meticulously searching

through church records, birth certificates.

Determined to find the hidden branches

of my family tree. While all around me,

cultures still swallow women’s identities,

insisting that it is a sign of true

love to abandon a birth name.

My inheritance from the patriarchy

is not worth

mentioning, dirty paper crowded

with archaic words and arcane symbols.

The matriarchy is where the true power

resides, the creative womb,

infused with nameless

magnetic vibrations. That inner stillness

inside beckons us to the truth,

as we unwrap these trappings

and escape the incessant myths

designed to enslave us,

and free ourselves to love.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: pedigree

A Different Light

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet.” – William Shakespeare

All through the understory,

the shy sensitive ones flaunt

their chance for glory, blushing

before the taller trees begin to leaf

and cast shadows below.

I am preoccupied with naming

the ones who only display their pink

blooms in the wild rush

of springtime passions.  Why

when they are clearly 

a rosy lavender,

a pinkish purple, 

a color so vibrant

it deserves its own word,

why are they called redbuds?

It seems such a careless christening,

inventing a standard they can’t

hope to fill, diminishing their sweet

offering.  Beside them, crape myrtles and

crabapples blaze in crimson

as if to say, this is red.

I am defending

their purity today, disgruntled

and needing precision

in my salute of deep respect

to their daring peepshow.

They are not red! They are precious

and fleeting, vivid and though

he makes Juliet say those words,

Will is voicing an insidious

patriarchal oppression, making it okay

for women to lose their birthright,

their innocence sacrificed.

Aha! Not a slapdash labeling after all,

but a carefully crafted

appropriation and

diminishment of pure beauty.

I stand here saying the name

holds power,

and should not be bestowed

or taken lightly.  Behold

cercis canadensis, whose heart-

shaped leaves emerge

after the flowers have fallen.

Let us nourish our nameless

parts, the ones who long

to flash their unspeakable beauty

in the safe container

of our willingness to look and

name with sublime care.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: flaunt