Excerpt from No Name by Penny Harter

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This poem appears in our Autumn/Winter 2021 issue. Subscribe today to receive the entire issue or purchase it in digital format.

This morning I want to wake with no
name, at least not the one I carried
with me into restless sleep.

I want to be new, fresh, untainted
by frustration or regret, anonymous
as I rise from my warm nest of linens.

Without a given name, I am weightless,
can choose a new one if I wish, woven
from the startle of autumn on the horizon.

I can travel without a passport—no need
to wave credentials in the wind since we
can’t go home again.

Home has changed, lost its birthright
just as we have lost the thread that led
us through the maze of who we were.

Yet let’s all practice shouting syllables
at the stars, piecing them together into
words like Hallelujah, Hello, or even Hope.

Penny Harter PoetPENNY HARTER’S most recent collections are Still-Water Days (2020) and A Prayer the Body Makes (2021). Her work has appeared in Persimmon Tree, Rattle, Tiferet, and American Life in Poetry, as well as in many journals, anthologies, and earlier
collections. She has won fellowships and awards from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Poetry Society of America, the Dodge Foundation, and VCCA.

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