American Life in Poetry

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Perhaps your family passes on the names of loved ones to subsequent generations. This poem by Andrei Guruianu speaks to the loving and humbling nature of sharing another’s name.


Dead before I came into this world, grandfather, I carry your name, yet I've never met you.

I hear my name, and know

that somehow they refer to you.

When I scribble those six letters

fast, to sign some document

or print them neatly in a box,

I feel your presence flow with the ink

stain and burn through the paper,

forever imprinted in my mind.

Late summer nights

gathered around the dinner table,

leftovers being cleared away,

faces clouded in cigarette smoke,

I hear voices pass the word

back and forth in reverence.

Somehow I know it's not me

the little one grabbing for attention.

They speak of you, Andrei,

the one I've never met,

whose name I carry.

Reprinted from Paterson Literary Review by permission of the author. Andrei Guruianu is a reporter for the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin in Binghamton, N.Y. Poem copyright 2003 by Andrei Guruianu. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry. Send comments to [email protected]

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