Name Theory

Hollywood star of black-and-white
golden age—jet hair, strong bones—
I see my mother here. Dark beauty, sensitive
nature: which traits are innate, which projected?

See, her name was really Phylis, the glamour
third-hand, created—a mask this name
shapes me to wear (? Behind the screen
in the self, contained, I am dark and sensitive


Musing on names and the story that I when I was born, my mother knew of no other Jennifers but actress Jennifer Jones. (For a Silver Birch Press prompt.)

11 thoughts on “Name Theory”

  1. This is a fabulous idea but an even more fabulous approach to it! I’m always intrigued by the masks and projections that make up a person and the line “a mask this name shapes me to wear” is a fascinating and thought-provoking way of putting it. My final thought is on your creative use of punctuation – I’m always impressed by the successful manipulation of punctuation, probably partially because I’m always too conservative and safe in the way I use it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I won’t tell you how many times I moved around that one question mark and two parentheses. I was fussing with it because earlier drafts had waaaay too many question marks, and I just wanted to get rid of some! I’m glad you think the result was successful.
      I am so fascinated by names, their meanings, their power. I really struggled to boil down my diverging thoughts. There might be more name poems to come.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It definitely worked! And I may just have to look into a poem about the history behind my name. There’s lots in that subject to pull from (etymology but also family expectations) – I hope to read more about yours, too!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. With innerzone on this one — which traits are innate, which projected? Wow.

    PS – I am named after my great grandmother whose name was Elizabeth but everyone called her Jennie … Maybe Jenifer/Jennifer is not really a name after all?!

    Liked by 1 person

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