Barista: Can I get your name, please, for your coffee?
Customer: What do you need my name for? I’m standing right here!
Where it took me: Giving the barista your name at Starbucks has spawned a culture of its own, with fake names, hilarious misspelling and mis-hearings, ongoing jokes between customers and baristas, and more. Obviously, this woman just needed her coffee. The prompt got me thinking about the power of naming; how names have the power to make something exist. I tried a scramble poem (writing the scene then reordering the lines) but ended up liking the scene itself.
Why do you need my name?
I’m standing right here.
The old woman refuses
to unhand the only power
she still holds, this name
her parents gave, the one scripted
on the marriage licence,
inked on the papers that proved
her babies alive;
the one who did not survive.
The name her husband still murmurs
in the safe cave of their bedroom.
In fair weather she rides the back
of his Vespa, imagines through her helmet
the stir of the sky in her hair,
wishes to be reckless though she won’t,
yearns to know
how the breeze really feels.