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.