True Names

David Burbank

If I knew you I'd call you bold. Your signature would be an elegant scrawl, and we'd compare birthdays by candlelight, melt wax on our fingers and drink appleshine in October. I'd be wishing for things I could not have. If I knew your true name (it would sound like desert or crimson or pheasant) I'd know every secret thing you hide. I'd bind you in a circle, keep you in my living room in place of the television. I'd make you guess my name and we'd tell each other about climbing oak trees in winter when the branches are barren and you can see through them the way I want to see through you. I'd turn you to glass and scratch you a bit, break off strands of hair and keep them locked in my father's desk. And I'd tell you the story of how he disappeared when I was dosed on morphine in a hospital bed, my left lung collapsed, and me wishing I had someone to talk to as I watched a movie with my eyes closed.

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