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.
GrandfatherDead 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 © 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.
About the Author
Ted Kooser was born in Ames, Iowa, in 1939. He is the author of a number of collections of poetry, including Flying at Night (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005), Delights & Shadows (Copper Canyon, 2004), and Sure Signs (1980). His nonfiction books include The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets (University of Nebraska Press, 2005) and Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps (University of Nebraska Press, 2002).
Kooser is the U. S. Poet Laureate (2004-2006) and a professor in the English Department of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He lives on an acreage near the village of Garland, Nebraska, with his wife Kathleen Rutledge, the editor of the Lincoln Journal Star.