Namesake Elegy

by Barbara Duffey

Barbara Duffey

Starling, clipped-wing darling, left heart-half too
large, right too stifled, lungs so stunted you

would never fly, never breathe a bladder
full with stolen air—your rumors started:

with no toes, the women whispered at the
party’s corners. Your slack body, other

Theo, haunts my child’s symmetry, your
names overlapped with the prefix for God.

I saw your mother at the market, asked
when she was due. I said, “Well, then they

won’t be in the same class at school.” She looked
stricken, but I hadn’t heard about your

body, your brain hemispheres each their own
wrong size, and was worried my son would be

Theo B. “He’s a whole year older,” I
explained, but I’d already hurt her whom

I wouldn’t mind standing by in the park
as we both called “Theo” and you both stayed

put, your confusion, or your plausible
deniability, to gain just one

more second motherless. My son’s hair would
lift on the breeze; he’d say, “I think that’s me.”

Barbara Duffey's picture

Duffey, assistant professor of English at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell where she teaches creative writing, composition and literature courses, has written poetry for almost 25 years, since her fifth-grade instructor told the class to write similes., “He also had us write Mother’s Day poems to our mothers, ” Duffey said. “I actually think my mother still has the poem I wrote for her, Mother’s Day 1991. My parents were always supportive of my writing.”

Last updated December 24, 2014