Vassar Student Review

Vassar Student Review

names (definitions)

By Allison Deutsch

to answer your question,
I do still want to be a mother.

mother—still sister to sister and brother.

I know what I want
to say about this year.

be a fixture in questioning how we lie to others.

I will tell them that before
I knew anything, I wrote

and wrote and wrote and wrote

myself an alphabet
to toggle the brightness. they will know

or ask, learn, and then know

it is my scripture—history only in part
that determines everything we say, or

most of what we say, or 

legacy preserved by the touch of greedy kings.
they might hold it above their heads to block

new legislation or

the rain above them. I hope their belief in me 
comes with terms and conditions. by then they may know

I want them to be good, not great, or that

there is nothing more important
than breaking us into pieces, nothing more important

(than whatever I cannot yet think to wish)

than the clothing
that turned red; some are still dripping.

A) Allison, there is no crown / no royalty / in or out of this novelty

B) the links that spread the bug / cannot be squashed or exterminated

C) I wish I could know your name / know their names and / I will never know theirs / how I have known what I own

D) I could have died / one my grandfather drove us to dinner just before his face half-sagged / two food poisoning twice / three every time I am in the ocean I think this might be my last itemized list

E) when / more than I have almost been / a large part of everyone has almost lived

F) I understand names / definitions and their failures

G) they are the documentation / of the leading up / of the lost connections on reality shows / where celebrities go to find out they aren’t white

H) or just how much they are and I have always been / white and behind me the genocide / that left 23&me defining me ninety nine %

I) Ashkenazi Jew and behind me the genocide that / makes ancestry.com more difficult

J) than jungle gyms and behind me the histories of others / I never knew how to learn

K) I will never know you but I want to know how you text “okay” / how or if you play in snow / if our paths have

L) starred the same bad actors / not apples / lemons that are not a given 

M) my wish / which my mother says never to do because it removes agency / is impossible

N) while the arctic is burning / I don’t believe in nations / I grieve / too many names and losses to group or receive

O) but the minute I listen / oh / I hear nothing / and get to work

P) I know how to use the pulse oximeter now / that is something

Q) qwerty keyboard I loved you / for hunting and gathering / but where are we now

R) my eyes shut and rest is nowhere / I crave somewhere to lay my head / reality how it never was

S) wear your mask / sweet but sickly / do I really have to specify which

T) how can children learn to read / the as T H and E / in our broken city now

U) apprehend / punitive / both words with two separate meanings Google should not have to pair / to define each one / do you / are you

V) verifying my account / when you ask me for an answer to IsraelPalestine / no I don’t have

W) W W dot / the words to mend / the search history of so many hearts / where do

X) you keep yours / is it like treasure

Y) you

Z) should know it’s all zeroes and ones / colonial finders with split faces / on our docks / the droning of the laptop fan / over muted mics on Zoom

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