by Annie Bolger Tvetenstrand

Schisming sounds divorce faces from names
Breathe in and hear: empty space of a name.

Made palatable by the shape of a tongue,
Syllables spell out the pace of a name.

The silence must break, but to buffet its fall,
Spidered sounds catch in the lace of a name.

Words may deceive and seem more than they are—
Always remember the place of a name.

Fragments extant show a shadowy muse
Inscriptions remain as the trace of a name.

I can be “you,” but a different address
Sparks hunger you whet with the taste of a name.

PHOTOGRAPH: Annie Bolger Tvetenstrand.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Names are both potent and powerless, illuminating and limiting. I felt as if the form of the ghazal was especially apt for exploring this concept: the relentless repetition at the end of each couplet forces the listener to rethink and recontextualize the same sounds over and over again. The tradition of embedding the poet’s name in the final couplet, too, underscores the importance of names and authorship in the form. I’ve spent my life spelling my last name to people, but I’ve only recently begun exploring the history behind my middle name. This poem, for me, is a jumping-off point for further contemplation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Annie Bolger Tvetenstrand is pursuing a BA in English Literature and Classics at Swarthmore College. She is currently the Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s daily newspaper. She recently hand made and published Dated, a chapbook of her poetry. She won the 2015 Lois Morrell Poetry Contest, and her work has appeared in the Swarthmore Review, Prisms, and r.kv.r.y quarterly literary journal.