Out Like a Lamb
by Karen Paul Holmes

My mother expected a boy at the end of March,
but nature pulled the wool over

with a daughter born on April first,
a Michigan child, who always wished

March would come in like a lion, that her birthday
might arrive soft and sweet, no need

for heavy fleece. Often windy-wet and sometimes
snow tricked me, upset

like so many children when their big days
don’t turn out as small minds dreamed. And

what about my parents? With three girls already,
they had gladly chosen a boy’s name. Stumped,

they took my big sister’s advice: named me Karen Sue.
I thought them negligent, turning over

my identity to a five-year-old. (And anyway,
couldn’t it at least have been Susan)? Now

living in the south with February daffodils
and dogwood Aprils, I have ditched Sue

for my maiden name, Paul —
a boy’s moniker, after all. My daughter

has a well-thought-out name, carefully
culled. She hates it. The age-old joke,

it seems, got played on me: Mum and Dad
were not the fools I thought them to be.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: Happy me with 60th birthday roses, Karen Paul Holmes, April 1, 2014 at home.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem first appeared in Skive Magazine (Australia) in their April Fool’s issue, 2013. “Out Like a Lamb” tells a true story: I was born on April 1, and my parents let my five-year-old sister name me. I always wanted to have nice spring weather on my birthday and rarely did until I moved south. Most of my poems are autobiographical but most are not about my childhood. I try to add elements of humor to my work, even if otherwise serious. This poem is lighter but still has a little gravity because we all do have pretty strong feelings about our names, don’t we? I’m sure that’s why Silver Birch Press chose this theme.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Karen Paul Holmes is the author Untying the Knot (Aldrich Press, 2014). She received an Elizabeth George Foundation poetry grant in 2012. Publishing credits include Poetry East, Atlanta Review, Caesura, Town Creek Poetry, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and the Southern Poetry Anthology Vol 5: Georgia (Texas Review Press). She founded and hosts the Side Door Poets in Atlanta and Writers’ Night Out in the Blue Ridge Mountains.