by Louisa Bethan Rimmer

When they ask you how you got your name, tell them you saw it floating in the dregs at the bottom of a shallow glass unclouding itself into a translucent eye looking back

tell them it appeared to you in the hieroglyphics of skinny jeans emptied onto changing room linoleum, forming meaning where your legs should be

tell them you found it with your tongue rolled up small inside a woman’s mouth and you dragged it out with your teeth

tell them it left a voicemail between your legs, just the peach-fuzz digestion of the empty line of a phone left off the latch

tell them you found it inside an orange, taut as botox, how you pushed your fingers through the skin and pith lodged under your nails and the juice ran hot on your arm like piss down an infantile leg

tell them that it used to be behind where the sofa was, underneath the red wine stain on the paintwork

tell them how it would sing to you in your sleep with the soft catharsis of walls, pressing your ear to the hum of the ceiling and your lips to a phantom pair of dreams

tell them how you tried to wrap your words around it but couldn’t, so your mouth was filled instead with the urgent silence of screams behind double glazing

tell them how you could smell it on the inside pulse points of your wrist, in the warm lingering absence of another aftershave mixing with your own

tell them that it made itself heard in a bottle of Merlot dropped in a supermarket aisle under those cool-sweat lights as bright as the inside of a bone

tell them that you unravelled it from in between numb limbs of verse, and, later, birthdays that seemed to clatter in past curfew and burn the toast

tell them it tastes how metaphors feel and that you like to attach meaningless things to meaningless things in this way, tether them into a net to hold you up

tell them its stacked up in stanzas of severed frontal lobes, or nail clippings, because poetry is just the gobstopper of the brain

tell them you read it in the ‘Advertisements’ column in the local paper from a place you no longer live

tell them you imagined falling with your hands in your pockets, and that you saw it in the blood that pooled from the front of your face like a stop-motion flower opening into bloom or lipstick spreading past the edges of an old mouth

tell them that you read it in braille, running your tongue over the fuzz of dirty teeth

tell them it dropped into your lap as swiftly and as full of promise as an ice-cream cone nose diving for tarmac

tell them it rose to the surface of your skin in a shower so pebbledash hot that your back felt like a licked battery

tell them where you find it now, written backwards on the forehead of your own reflection, handed over through the frosted glass, a name made in your image and out of it.

Audio recording of ‘What’s In A Name?’, written and read by Louisa Bethan Rimmer

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