Genealogy of a Name

Names tumble, like clothes in a drier.

They are a broad informal boulevard of anonymous

trees without labels, hieroglyphics,

first findings in an arbitrary location,

then scattered shards, flaked and worn,

faded, but still faintly pigmented beneath ancient enclosures,

arcane lines, inscriptions incorporated into stone,

requiring, requesting, obligating:

a machine to scan with, dissecting each configuration of the word.

Thus one’s model, its connectionist nature,

becomes evident The pitcher

is reattached to its handle,

daughter with father,

father with his son,

a patent jig-saw in time’s

laboratory of experimental genealogy.

Therefore Darwins interbreed

and peter out to a whisper

in mere centuries,

while Huxleys and Spencers


chromosomal qualifications, genetic proclivities,

producing a locust swarm of writers

for book-seller’s delectation.


Who has not confronted this conflict,

been swamped by the waves, or managed to swim in them?

Why not this woman then,

with her father’s last name,

scribbling her way into journals?

Why not? Better this than wastrel millions.

Keys are not criminals.

Wherefore are there doors

if not to unlock and to enter them?