The Charles & Other Names.

I was named for a poet
And so I spent most of my life
Emulating him.

I was 10 when I discovered that I
Held a magic ability to twist words,
Manipulate emotions,
Sentences of longing that made you want.

The funny thing is, I didn’t
Actually learn how to read until I was 9.
I’d managed to coast through
Most of grade 1 and 2 by guessing
A, B, C. The first girl I ever thought of
As my best friend was only so because
I realized her name and mine differentiated
By a couple of letters. Charlotte, Charlene, Charles.

I spew Bukowski in the early mornings
When the absolut truths burn heavy
In my oesophagus, when the whiskey nights give way.
I downed my first shot at 13, fell head first into a pool,
Loved by a boy 5 years older than me.
I’d say he stole my first kiss, but he didn’t.

I never bought into the theory of affection,
Of relationships, I knew lust before I knew his name.
Lust was the wanting that burned,
The itch that came from needing to have
The same things as everyone else.
The first thing I remember wanting was a father.

We had to write these journals when we were 10,
A very basic exercise on cursive and grammar;
One of them was supposed to be about our families.
I remember rapidly changing mine to fit a father figure
Because everyone else had one, it didn’t matter that
He wasn’t. Just that they believed he was.
It stopped mattering the day I met George,
That’s the name of my sperm donor.
I call him that because dad is a name bestowed
Upon the man who teaches you to ride a bike,
Who goes fishing with you,
Who gives you your first beer.

I was 16 when I learnt how to identify
Wild weed by a lake in switzerland.
I called him dad in my heart, in my head.
He understood my wildness, he too
Had a poet’s heart and an artist’s pain.
He moved out of my mother’s apartment during my first year of college.
I’d never told anyone how betrayed I felt,
But he took a chunk out of me
A pain that demanded poetry.
The next time I saw him, I was 21.
He had a soul patch,
I had an ex fiancée.

I thought I understood love because love
Was always supposed to read like a poem.
I was 24 when I understood that love is another word,
And it’s our experiences that grant us wholeness.

I was named for a poet I spent my life emulating,
Chasing his ghost until I stopped.
I learnt that words are our reincarnations:
Heavenly bodies freed the moment we read.
So I stopped writing, for a long time,
Because I wanted to be suspended in a moment
I can’t quite remember and will never
Be able to live through again.

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