Beautiful Enough
by Erika Dreifus

My parents have always maintained
that they believed Erika Dreifus
was “beautiful enough” on its own.
No middle name required.

But I think it’s also fair to say they never expected
that the summer before I entered fourth grade
we’d relocate from south Brooklyn to Prepland,
and that almost instantly I’d envy my classmates’
monogrammed sweaters and canvas totes,
not to mention the Bermuda bag covers.
All those triple initials, entwined.

For that matter, when I was born—
some years after The Feminine Mystique
but still before the Moon landing —
they weren’t anticipating that I’d never marry,
never move my surname-from-birth to middle-name position
as my mother had one generation earlier,
and her mother, before her.

So here we are,
my first name and my last.
Just the two of us.
Beautiful enough on our own.

PHOTOGRAPH: This is the very first photograph of Erika Dreifus, taken in (and by) the hospital where she was born.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’m a big fan of writing prompts, and the fact that you’re reading this right now helps explain why. I wrote the first draft of this poem in February, after I received the following poetry prompt from Poets & Writers: “This week, write a poem about your name. When you were born, you were given a name before beginning to develop a sense of self. Have you grown into your name, or have you always resisted it? Knowing who you are today, where you’ve come from, and where you see yourself going, would you choose a different name for yourself?”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Erika Dreifus lives in New York, where she writes poetry and prose and serves as Media Editor for Fig Tree Books. Since 2004, she has published the popular “Practicing Writer” newsletter for poets, fictionists, and writers of creative nonfiction. Visit her online at www.erikadreifus.com and follow her on Twitter @ErikaDreifus, where she tweets on “matters bookish and/or Jewish.”