Adult: Second Place Winner

The Short Distance of a Name

There is only one letter separating me
from my mother. I want her to say
she named me after herself,
and that when my father stepped

out of the room, she knew what to do
to bind us closer together. The letter between us is H:
in our heart of hearts, I know we are the same.
Mariah As Maria
Maria Has Maria
Maria y Maria
The name becomes something else,

something further from what it was each time I write it.
The name could be our bodies.
I want us to be confused for each other,

and sometimes we are –
a FAX bus driver once said
we could be sisters
and we blushed in unison;

I was too young to know
what that was supposed to mean,
but my mother knew and we reacted.

I didn’t think my body would become
like hers. I see the beginnings
of varicose veins, waiting beneath
the surface of my skin. She showed me
them once, lifting part of
her Walmart sweat-shorts and
they looked like webs.

Behind my neck, a sore
like one below her lip. When it rose,
I thought I had to get rid of it –
I scratched it until it bled,

trying to pull it from the skin
but it’s still there, a reminder
of how two bodies can overlap.

--Mariah B., Adult