What Bears Your Name

 Nancy Naomi Carlson


for Matthew, who lived 13 ½ hours



In Haifa an old cypress bears your name—

planted from seed to honor your one day


of life—above a bay I've never seen,

no doubt blue as your room, your layette sheets.


No way to hold back deserts. Miles and miles

away, still they invade our walled-in heights,


our measured roads, our album faces pressed

and saved. I should have named you Redwood, made


to last the wear of centuries, each growth

ring a celebration of your birth.


Or Air—fickle, but true. This atom raised

in hand or floating through me like a wraith,


might have brushed an ancient olive crest

or tamarisk, or blushed you pink with breath.