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in a name.

by Lexi Vranick

in a name.

I spent childhood with other people’s names wallpapered on
the backs of my eyelids and caught and dipped and woven in the
gyri and the sulci of a brain planning a future with -


          a new name
          identity plucked from the pages of a book,
          to fit on the cover of another, and another
          to a build a career on -


I kept a notebook list of names and crossed them out
one by one, replaced them with more and scratched those, too
with pen marks in harsh slashes -


          that is easy to spell and to remember.
       whose origin will not be questioned
        by creased brows and
        what are you
      what are you
         what are you


I am my grandfather’s hands and my father’s heart;
I am the question and the answer and the story in between -


        I am a Long Island accent
        with longer vowel sounds
        when I talk to the bagel shop clerk,
             order a coffee
             walk the dog


        I am New York soil and Florida sun -
    I am the stories told in earnest at every breakfast table
     that I have not lived but know by heart
     and can tell you with all the same pauses
     of my grandmother’s stammering memory


I am my mother’s wit in sarcastic quips
teasing over cell phone lines and across kitchen counters


I am not easy to pronounce,
and maybe I will look strange on book spines lining shelves
but this name carried my grandfather out of fires
and leaned heavy on my father’s shoulders,


this was the name gifted to my mother who
hyphenated me -

and taught me how to say
V as in Victor as in victory as in


           This is the name that no one could
        pronounce because they couldn’t seem
        to find a way to fit two consonants
        together in their mouths


           So we stand across wide desks and spell it out slow
         V as in Victor as in victory as in -
        a hard R and they will look at you strange and you will
        assure them that the letters fit like puzzle pieces
        and you move on to the A that they think you’ve
       misplaced and you will assure them that you know

           how to spell your own (N comes next) name
        (I and then C and then K)

And when they ask you
what it is - where it comes from - what it means

the answer is already written on your skin
and pulsing in the blood-rush of your veins,

          it is me
       it is me
        it is me.


Lexi Vranick

Lexi Vranick is an independent poet and fiction author residing on Long Island, New York. She holds a B.A. in Literature from Excelsior College, where she completed her undergraduate thesis on cultural perceptions of mental illness in literature. She is the author of three self-published titles in poetry and short form fiction, and is the founder and editor in chief of Little Lion Literary. Her work has been published in the Fly on the Wall Poetry Press anthology Please Hear What I’m Not Saying, has appeared or is forthcoming in Cagibi, Peculiars Magazine, Soft Cartel, and Kissing Dynamite Poetry. When she is not writing, Lexi enjoys fiddling with cameras, advocating for mental health awareness, and trying to find the legs in a glass of merlot.

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