The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood
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Make a Name by Shoshana Sarah

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Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” Genesis 11:4

 

Babiliu to Babel
They knew that making gathers.
They knew the power of a name,
and they wanted one—
but we see what that got them.

Scattered and confused,
now each glyph, utterance & way
of hearing sound is dispersed
across the earth.

African-American
Transatlantically scattered through the
Middle Passage, confused,
mixed up, sold and reduced
to the one drop rule.

No language, no name, no city:
Just two whole continents— neither
exactly our own, neither completely
home—
stretched so far as if to literally say
you are neither here nor there.

Surname (Slave names)
Maiden name, father’s name,
mother’s name, ex-husband’s
name— there is no family line or
occupation
in this— it is an anti-inheritance.

So I ask myself, what difference
does it make if I take his name?

Namesake
Shoshana is a Jewish name— though I am
not; it means rose. Or so I thought until
I learned it actually means lily— or both,
or more. Even scholars aren’t sure.
Mistranslated, it is the only thing that is
mine.

Maktub
Some believe in a hand that has
written our stories before we were born.
I don’t know about that
but this is what I do know:
I did not choose this name,
this tongue, this pen, or the love of
making—

Abracadabra
and yet: incantations, magic words,
the glamour of grammar— call it
what you want— but that’s what
happened.

Eunoia
I chose my daughters’ names carefully
(1)”beauty”/”splendor”/”glory;”
(2)”teacher”/”preacher”/”gatherer;”
(3)”people of god”/”a high place.”

Each time I was renaming myself.

 


Shoshana SarahShoshana Sarah is a multidisciplinary artist, American-born, based in Jerusalem. Creator of Poets of Babel, a multilingual poetry club, she explores hybrid and multi-local identity through poetry/spoken word, lyric essay, and performance. She belly dances, teaches writing, and has completed The Shaindy Rudoff Creative Writing Graduate Program. She is obsessed with maps, clocks, compasses, lampposts, and the Tower of Babel while simultaneously having issues with time, directions, and a proud case of “Jerusalem Syndrome.” Her works appear in The Ilanot Review, Yes Poetry,מרחבالفضاء Space, Entropy, Duende, Arc, and “Let’s Get Lit.”

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