Sunday, February 8, 2009


believing in the power of words and sounds
makes naming a searching, seeking task:
a projection of untold futures relying on the single, simple choice,
a first test of new parents' stewardship,
the setting of another's course.

i remember this uncertain choosing
from vying visions:
a gentle field, an ornery smile, an ascending melody,
a strong handshake, deep eyes, deliberate puzzle-piecing;
but when the sounds lined up rightly
and the vision focused clearer,
smiles lightened our hopeful faces
because you were named.

but those many other options did not erase at the decision,
though they are unheard when i address you.
the candidate names,
on folded paper in irrelevant books,
on sticky tabs no longer referenced-- even removed,
remain within
my inflection of your name.

you are familiar as 'harper sequoia'
but your 'harper' resounds of the others:
the 'ea', the 'soren', the 'lillian', the 'shayer', the 'mae'.
you are 'ancient melodies',
but your music carries stronger
with undertones of severe, bright lights,
sacred vows and fragrant flowers,
of migration and home.
these, too, are discreetly folded into your name,
unheard by others, saving we who named you.

you are familiar as 'jack rainier'
but your 'jack' carries the others:
the 'priya', the 'asa', the 'maren', the 'alona', and the 'rose'.
you are 'gracious and wise',
but your grace resounds deeper
with whispers of beloved, healing hands,
a silent star in a dark sea,
of back-lit oak trees at dusk,
and the sweetest, old flower.
these, too, are discreetly folded into your name,
unknown by others, saving we who named you.

this hopeful steward is relieved in knowing
naming is not as final as first supposed.
since the others add a layered meaning,
the course set includes those not intoned.


callie said...

ingenious, ru! i'm So with you on this and SO passionate about names and naming. jonas might have been david..simon might have been an ansel or a catherine...and i still feel jonas and simon in those names.

my name means "fortress" right on is that?!

remember that key chain with your name in hawaiian? loved that!

Ethan said...

love it all, particularly:
"these, too, are discreetly folded into your name,
unheard by others, saving we who named you."
not just because it references us, but they are just very powerful in their repetition.

Ruthie said...

the "folded into" comes from your kneading, love! so perfect that the line sticks out to you.

Danielle said...

what a lovely poem. i particularly like the stanzas with the meanings of the "lost" names - all those details really pop. so nice. and it's totally true that the meanings behinds the words/names hold a lot of power over you when you're thinking of them . . . even though i know most people will never think of that stuff once the name is a person. funnily, the name on the top of our list right now has no really interesting meaning. but i do love the sound of it. still, we'll see . . . not 100% sure yet. love you, ruth dutton!

Erica said...

How do you accomplish all that you do and still have time to write such a beautiful poem? You inspire me and I love the poem. And you.

Catalina said...

you are so, so good. i love you.

Mary Katie said...

the gifts of voice, syntax, and words...they're all yours!

Somebodyiusedtoknow said...

Hi Ruthie! I had to come and check out your blog as well :-) Nice to meet you!!

This poem is amazing btw! See you around ♥