my birthday 2013
Song of the Lake and the Brown Stone
by Lynne Bronstein

From old Celtic Lenna, meaning a lake or pool
Sometimes a waterfall or brook:
“Most popular as a middle name for girls.”
It’s my middle name.
But it’s the name that I like to be called.

My first name is Carol,
“A festive song, generally religious.”
When I was young
It sounded round to me
And I wanted so much
To get away from a name that sounded
Like my childhood chubbiness.
There were Carols and Caroles I admired:
Burnett, Lombard, Channing, King.
I liked it as a name for them.
It just didn’t seem to fit me.
They didn’t call me by my name that much at school.
They called me crybaby
And, for my last name,

A brown stone.
Originally Braunstein,
Filtered through Polish as Bronsxtejn.
Changed to Bronson by a few relatives.
Like so many Jewish names,
It was stuck on my family involuntarily.
The Jews in Germany
Resisted taking German names
Until the authorities cracked down and gave them
Not the nicest sounding names.

When I wanted to be an actress at age eleven
I tried out new names:
Carol Lynn—
Too much like Carol Lynley
So I gave that up.
Carol Bronstine.
How do you pronounce it? Styne or Steen?
I should have tried Bron STEEN like Springsteen.
I gave up on changing that name.
I wasn’t going to be an actress.
Writers can have any last name they want.

At fifteen I asked everyone to call me Lynne.
It seemed thinner.
I could leave behind the round little girl
Whom everyone made fun of.

I am Lynne on my bylines
But I am Carol at the medical clinic
Where they go by my I.D.
Maybe it fits for me to be Carol there
Because I dread doctors
And I need the courage
Of Carol Peletier
Of The Walking Dead,
Who is now
A major listing for the name Carol
On Google.
She’s the bravest, toughest
Carol ever.
She’s not round and she’s not dumped on
And she knows how to survive.
I’m starting to like my first name more.

My full name means
Song of the Lake and the Brown Stone.
It’s kind of picturesque.
It’s somewhat medieval.
It’s old and new,
It’s elemental and it’s got moxie.
Despite the meanings that have
Come and gone
It’s not a bad name at all.

PHOTOGRAPH: Carol Lynne Bronstein on her birthday (2013).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynne Bronstein came to LA in the era of album rock and wrote for the underground Los Angeles Free Press. For five decades, she’s supported herself as a journalist while contributing to the literary community with four books, poems and short stories in numerous magazines, readings, and organizing poetry events. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net Awards and her short story “Why Me?” won a prize in the PoeticDiversity Short Fiction Contest. She has poetry forthcoming in Lummox, Chiron Review, PoeticDiversity, and Sparring With Beatnik Ghosts, among others. She’s in her Golden Age.