by Richard Brautigan

I guess you are kind of curious as to who I am,
but I am one of those who do not have a regular
name. My name depends on you. Just call me
whatever is in your mind.

If you are thinking about something that
happened a long time ago: Somebody asked
you a question and you did not know the
That is my name.

Perhaps it was raining very hard.
That is my name.

Or somebody wanted you to do something.
You did it. Then they told you what you did was
wrong — “Sorry for the mistake,”– and you had
to do something else.
That is my name.

Perhaps it was a game that you played when
you were a child or something that came idly
into your mind when you were old and sitting
in a chair near the window.
That is my name.

Or you walked someplace. There were flowers
all around.
That is my name.

Perhaps you stared into a river. There was
somebody near you who loved you. They were
about to touch you. You could feel this before
it happened. Then it happened.
That is my name.

Or you heard someone calling from a great
distance. Their voice was almost an echo.
That is my name.

Perhaps you were lying in a bed, almost ready
to go to sleep and you laughed at something, a
joke unto yourself, a good way to end the day.
That is my name.

Or you were eating something good and for
a second forgot what you were eating, but still
went on, knowing it was good.
That is my name.

Perhaps it was around midnight and the fire
tolled like a bell inside the stove.
That is my name.

Or you felt bad when she said that thing to
you. She could have told someone else:
Someone who was more familiar with her
That is my name.

Perhaps the trout swam in the pool, but the
river was only eight inches wide, and the moon
shone on and the watermelon fields
glowed out of proportion, dark, and the moon
seemed to rise from every plant.
That is my name.

From In Watermelon Sugar (1968), a novella by Richard Brautigan

Photo: “Forest’s Edge” by Holly Northrop