He called me kishka
in a good way. When I met
his friends they called me Whorebitch’s
girlfriend and he laughed it off. Then,
the babies came and I was Mama, he,
Daddy, so even when I called him at work,
I asked, “How’s Daddy doing?”
And on his cake “Happy Birthday, Daddy!”
He no longer referred to me by anything,
but Mama—not the hot sexy girl—instead
the damp, sour milk smell on my skin,
the ponytail, the sweatpants; defrosted
everything. What does he call her? Hot dog?
The Naming of Leven
I could’ve named you Lenore, Leona,
Paris, Elaine, Paige – the list goes on and on.
The nurse said we couldn’t leave until
we had you named. How can a person name
someone she had just met only hours
before? Your father wrote every name choice
on the white board on the wall; each nurse
who came checked on the status of the name
selection. The letters blurred as if they were
candles I stared at too long and left sparks,
fire marks on my field of vision.
The wall was white, the letters, red, your father’s
eyes blue. When I brought you to my breast
the first time, I cried. I knew you were
the only reason for living and I had
to call you by name – a Dutch verb, almost
a number, a lightning bolt, a lake.
About the author
Cat Dixon is the author of Our End Has Brought the Spring (Finishing Line Press, 2015) and Too Heavy to Carry (Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2014). She is the managing editor of The Backwaters Press, a nonprofit press in Omaha. She teaches creative writing at the University of Nebraska. Her poetry and reviews have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Sugar House Review, Midwest Quarterly Review, Coe Review, Eclectica, and Mid-American Review. Her website is www.catdix.com.