by Mary Bast

Ten years as ex’s Schwab
required a change.
I curled around the sounds
of Ntozake Shange ‒
en-toh-ZAH-kee SHAHN-gay
her name sings itself.
She knew she’d go nowhere
as Williams, Paulette L.,
nor could the noise of Schwab
contain the woman I’d become.

I wished to break completely,
dump the Mary, too, grow into
Maya or Simone, but drifting
without tethers taught desirable –
a life as wife – the lone container
of emerging self kept Mary
for continuance, and for music
searched the names of goddesses,
conceived a yearning for the playful,
fierce cat-goddess Bast.
Intone her name, accenting “buh,” vibrating “ahh,”
now ringing “sss,” then noting “tuh” – Buhahhssstuh.

PHOTOGRAPH: Images of the Egyptian goddess Bastet at the Neues Museum (Berlin, Germany).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I carried my ex’s Schwab for 10 years after our divorce, until my son became comfortable with our having different last names, then spent months thinking about it, not wanting to revert to my father’s Ritter, but rather to find a symbolic female name. With my daughter’s help and a book of goddess names, I settled on Bast, known for delivering believers from evil spirits. This amused me, because my work as coach and consultant to business executives at that time definitely required releasing some evil spirits.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Bast writes poetry, found poetry, and creative nonfiction. Her two poetry chapbooks (Eeek Love and Time Warp) and two found poetry chapbook (Unmuzzled, Unfettered and Toward the Riverare available at Amazon.com. She’s also an Enneagram coach, author of seven nonfiction books, and artist.