Keeping My Name
by Danielle Nicole Byington

Once, I had an accident.
A five-year-long accident,
Perhaps longer.
I thought it destroyed
Everything I thought I could be.

I resurfaced with new skin,
Wanted to rename my mass,
Call it something different in the books,
Allow my whole to chime with
Discovered depth.

I named her Saffron Van Riddle.

It begins as the most expensive herb on the planet,
Attached to a puzzle with intriguing surname.
The novelty of rebirth was fairly simple to obtain,
But, I stuffed the court papers under my bed:
Where was the challenge?

The characters attached to my presence felt dull,
Numb, ordinary without story.

I was once Danielle Byington.
Why isn’t this okay?

I swallowed the past whole,
Attempting to consume it in its state of
Certified, legal, birth given purpose.
Only a bored sigh replied from my heart.

Some cheered for such radical measure,
But those with wisdom argued.

If I repainted my car,
It would have a new shell,
But I would still recognize the flaws,
The shakes and shimmies that need repair.

Plastic surgery can bedazzle worn women,
But when they sign their checks
The ink does not bend in new, youthful bubbles—
Saffron Van Riddle would still dot her “i”s the same.

Returning to Danielle’s skin was uncomfortable,
But the hide waited to be polished,
Yet thickened by these necessary times.

Now, all is right in my assigned guise,
As much as one might expect.
While renaming a rose does not alter the scent,
Knowing the way it has grown makes us appreciate it.

PHOTOGRAPH: Danielle Nicole Byington.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Danielle Nicole Byington’s work has been published with The Mockingbird, Johnson City Poets Collective, and The Camel Saloon. Having studied under poets Dr. Don Johnson and Dr. Jesse Graves, Danielle obtained her English B.A. from ETSU in 2015, with honors. As a graduate student in ETSU’s English-MA program, her academic work focuses on not only Creative Writing, but Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance Literature, and she often utilizes her creative endeavors as adjunct material to convey the academic theories she writes about, such as ekphrasis and appropriation. The enclosed poem was a fantastic opportunity for her to reflect on the circumstances that have yielded this bio.