Things were simpler then,
the early 1950s,
and things which seemed too sad

or difficult to say
sometimes went unmentioned.
Even formal documents

like these in which we think to find
absolute congruency
journeyed from the truth.

The trouble is, the ways around
a thing unsaid are myriad
and free, whereas chronology

isn't, not usually.
And so
these the records of my life
begin with a skip and a stutter,

the claims and authenticity of one
emptied by the dates
given deadpan by the other.

On page two, for instance,
where legally I'm born to them,
my age of eighteen months

has been inserted. Then my name
is granted to me, new,
which means in all the text

that's come before this
I'm the one I've never heard of.
Nothing can be fixed

about the circularity of this,
but in the space of these
few pages, a great deal

is amended which,
in the certificate of birth,
can be consolidated:

a woman lies down
in simple substitution
and does as she's told,

a different man discreetly
leaves and is awakened
with good news.

There is my birth-date,
a weight dropped into it
at ten p.m.
Only names

have been changed, a legality.
I think we are embarrassed
for these documents,

for their methods and their awkwardness,
for the problems that they meant
to fix, for the way they must,

of necessity, conflict.
And I am too cheaply thrilled
by mention of my prior name,

kept secret for so long,
maybe it's private.
is one to do with such a thing

even as it makes long-
settled things ring wrong
or right? Say, for instance,

it's the name you gave to a dog,
or the name of a town you came to stay in,
say that it's a name you've hated

ever since a certain incident
with a certain stupid dress,
say that it's a name

that seems to call you,
unaccountably, on every hard
or hidden thing you've done,

what then?
This name
is neither something meant to be
nor something never meant.

What can it represent?
I slept and dreamt,
I gazed and must have fed.

Alias from an alien life,
skipping stone of kryptonite,
remaindered tag from my creator,

treasure, relic, this is what:
you are too late to be a basis
and must stay astonishing.