by Meredith Maltby

Published in Issue No. 211 ~ December, 2014

I was first christened with the name Mercedes.


My dad:

American, pedestrian,

was thinking of cars.


I was not the first love of Gabriel García Márquez

Nor did my mother impart a name

of complicated love.


She thought it should be Margot,

As in goat,


She tried to paint me when I was still

inside of her, give me fingers and hair

that she had invented.


They decided on Meredith.


Classic, my mother said.
My father liked the “-dith”.


My father used to call me a nightmare

when I was slipping fast asleep

to the thunderstorm song on my CD player.


“Night mere”, he’d say,

mixing with the sounds of storms,

I learned to love the sound of thunder

softened by evening rain.


Meredith was muddled by grade school.


The name became a disyllabic blunder

pronounced by my peers without the middle ‘e’,

the letter lodged in the mess

of gap tooth misplacement.


Upon leaving my birthplace of Chicago,

I was no longer referred to as Mer-death

out of sheer laziness, vowels that

crept up in the mouth like fire ants,

an accent that crawled of home.


My name was spoken

in beautiful polysyllabic ease, proper phonetics

that hit my ears with the sensation of cool water.


I felt myself opening quite loud and quite new.


No longer a ghost of parental creation,

I was unworldly; my name free to roam.


I learned to surround myself

with people worth haunting,

Made love, choices and dreams

that I had invented.


I want to make name-seals to roll onto your surface,
Press stamps of ancient ink

enough to make you know me,

To feel the arcs of letters

lilt your skin like tattoo marigolds.


I revel in the second ‘e’,

A syllable I’ve sworn company to,

a jewel I’ve discovered

far from home.


I want nothing more

than to provide pronunciation,

Introduce myself as that prism of seamless speech

I know I can be,

(The origin of language light

not yet known).

account_box More About

Meredith Maltby is from Glen Ellyn, Illinois and attends Tulane University. She studies English and Linguistics, and is on the Tulane women's tennis team. She is the poetry editor for the Tulane Review and likes pancakes without syrup.