What’s in a Name

Our son
his middle name
belongs to my grandfather
who gave it to my grandmother
and then on to my father
who gave it to my mother
and to me and three others

The name my grandfather carried with him
down the streets of Chicago
the one he clung to
through his father’s death
and held tight to
as his mother left

The name he introduced himself with
when he met his love
that day she opened the door
put water on the stove
and invited him in to keep warm

The name he wanted to give to her
but first
had to carry off to fight
across the ocean
on a foreign shore

The name he brought back
a little damaged and unsure
to try to unlearn
what it had learned
in that war

The name his love then took
the one that gave her a home
The woman who had started her life
in a basket
on the steps of a church
all alone

I don’t think
there was ever a man
more grateful to be caught
he said
or a women
more grateful
to catch

The name they carried with them
to that little house
on the shore
to build their life
board by board

The name that brought my father
into this world
the one he offered my mother
The name I carry too
with my sisters and brother
the one that binds us together
and calls us home

The name that’s now yours
my sweet boy
This name that’s already traveled so far
through city streets
and over oceans
down long, bumpy roads
and up hills it shouldn’t have been able to climb

The name
you carried with you
through your short days
and up
into heaven
far away

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