Hello, detective

Poetry / Kristi Maxwell

:: Hello, detective ::

Rename me the quiet execution of a nail
Rename me mouthwork and guesswork
Gethsemane, a Sunday in France
Rename me no widow
Rename me no whited-out error
or whittled branch, no wood debris
No bereavement
Rename me concussion, cocoon, ca-caw,
a series of useless birdsong, bird-sound, 
the brain’s own birth-pain, delivering a thought
Rename me coddler or god
witness or withness
an unforgiveable act, an ax or an ask
Rename me afraid
but do not name me without
Do not name me without
not minnow
Do not name me bait or beaten or deterred
Rename me turd, but not porcelain, not flesh
Rename me commotion
Rename me the proximity of salt and sugar
as the distance between assault and assure
Rename me sugar-assured, rename me
ushered, rename me hush
Do not rename me hush 
Do not take us out of the world
Rename me a series of pills
but not swallow
but not even a swallow’s wingspan
or prey
Rename me prayer or drawer into which
one folds her desperation
but do not name me opened
and do not open me
Rename me father, further, pelt,
trade, treason, logic, and lube
Rename me bunny-tail of moon on the wide ass of night
Rename me after accumulation, after the fact
Rename me after after
Rename me then
Rename me any, rename me anon, avast,
a Kevlar vest never needed
Rename me sinew
Rename me insinuation
Rename me remain but not remains
Do not rename me tooth-sized or canine
blasted or blessed
Rename me have, rename me as having
Rename me sleep, but not sleeper, sleep


From the writer

:: Account ::

In the spread of a week, I was in the ER because of acute pain caused by a herniated disc, and my husband was in the ER after being beaten and robbed while biking home from work. My mind was on the tenuous, my mind was on the body—that spectrum of fragility and resilience. I’m sure most of us have experienced frustration at our inability to help someone in the way we’d like—the texture of my mornings changed; my day began with a call to the detective because a call made me feel like I was doing something. I got married somewhat spontaneously in July 2016, and, to my surprise, I liked my new name: wife. I wanted to keep it. This poem is as much about the talk I did not have with the detective as the talks I did. It’s about the collision between grief and celebration. It’s either lullaby or tornado or spell. It’s a poem on holding, a poem on hold, waiting less patiently than it might.


Kristi Maxwell is the author of five books of poetry, including Realm Sixty-four (Ahsahta Press, 2008), That Our Eyes Be Rigged (Saturnalia Books, 2014), and PLAN/K (Horse Less Press, 2015). She lives in Kentucky, where she is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Louisville.