Barbara Duffey

Namesake Elegy

Starling, clipped-wing darling, left heart-half too
large, right too stifled, lungs so stunted you

would never fly, never breathe a bladder
full with stolen air—your rumors started:

with no toes, the women whispered at the
party’s corners. Your slack body, other

Theo, haunts my child’s symmetry, your
names overlapped with the prefix for God.

I saw your mother at the market, asked
when she was due. I said, “Well, then they

won’t be in the same class at school.” She looked
stricken, but I hadn’t heard about your

body, your brain hemispheres each their own
wrong size, and was worried my son would be

Theo B. “He’s a whole year older,” I
explained, but I’d already hurt her whom

I wouldn’t mind standing by in the park
as we both called “Theo” and you both stayed

put, your confusion, or your plausible
deniability, to gain just one

more second motherless. My son’s hair would
lift on the breeze; he’d say, “I think that’s me.”

Barbara Duffey is the author of the poetry collection I Might Be Mistaken (Word Poetry, forthcoming 2015). Her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Western Humanities Review, Best New Poets 2009, and elsewhere. She is an assistant professor of English at Dakota Wesleyan University. Follow her on Twitter @BarbaraNDuffey.