When he met her, she was called Edith, happiness,
but whatever joy had been at her naming
was long gone. He sometimes called her Diynah
when she would judge his handiwork and click her teeth,
or Miryam for her stubbornness when she wanted her way
to buy the best lamp oil or perfume for her hair.
At her worst, when she chose to stay away hours
in the baths or listening to musicians in the dirty street,
he called her Bara or Acantha, while wringing his hands.
That night she was Adrasteia, not wanting to run away.
When he trudged back, he knew she was no longer any of these.
He lifted her with a grunt and the hem of her robe cracked,
so he called her Adnina as a joke, since she was no longer light,
and Eidel as he pushed her towards his new home,
delicate and breakable, too fragile for raindrops.
His daughters were amazed and frightened. The brave one,
who missed her mother’s laughter, called her Libnah as she caressed
the white wrists. Another stayed by the hearth and muttered,
called her Zakiya, knowing her purity was false.
Lot, on a good day, called her Yerusha, his possession,
as he broke off fingertips for the soup, or filed away pinches
of her hair for dough. Most days, he called her what she was.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 16, Issue 4.