Poetry Dispatch No. 107 | October 6, 2006
Okay, “Confirmation Names” looks and reads like prose. Call it what you will : minimalism, a short, short story, flash fiction, sudden fiction, instant fiction… Somebody ‘rediscovered’ the form a few years ago and had to hang a new name on it. Before we celebrated ‘minimalism’ in narrative, we used to call writing like this a sketch, or a vignette—or worse. I’m going to go out on a limb here and call it “poetry”. And I don’t give a damn what anyone calls it.
A short story which echoes (which makes it a great short story), echoes only because of the poetry in the writing. The short story and the poem (long or short) are blood relatives.
For those reasons (and more) “Confirmation Names” appears as a dispatched poem today. And there will be more of these in the future. Just as this site will continue to celebrate the small, haiku and haiku-like poem. Norbert Blei
Confirmation Names by Mariette Lippo
We studied the saints, slipped the boys in through a break in the hockey field’s fence, and led them to the woods the nuns had deemed “off-limits.”
Vicky let a boy read her palm there. He told her her lifeline was short, that she’d better learn reverence for the moment. She cried for weeks before choosing the name Barbara, patron saint of those in danger of sudden death.
Susan said she would only go “so far,” but no one knew what that meant. Boys went nuts trying to find out. They loved to untie her waist-long hair, to see it fan underneath her. She loved their love letters, the way they’d straighten up whenever she walked by. She chose Thecla, who’d caused the lions to “forget themselves”; instead of tearing her to shreds, they licked her feet.
Jackie couldn’t wait for anything. The nuns told her impatience was her cross. Even the lunches her mother packed would be gone before ten, and she’d be left sorry, wanting more. She’d chosen Anthony, “the Finder,” in a last-ditch effort to recover what she’d lost. But the nuns gave her Euphrasia, the virgin, who’d hauled huge rocks from place to place to rid her soul of temptation.
Before mass, we’d check her back for leaves.
None of us, of course, chose Magdalen, the whore. She was the secret patron whose spirit, we believed, watched over us from the trees. She was the woman who’d managed to turn her passion sacred. She was the saint who turned the flesh Divine.
from Micro Fiction, Norton, 1996