Shriveled into a Cussword

I began to hate my name,

the knowing seeping into me with the slowness

of dew into dirt

in the dead of summer.


It's that pudgy, stringy-haired Nancy

in the Sunday comics

I finally decided,

the undiscovered truth

knotted deep inside me

like a root-bound plant

in need of a different pot.


--a steady trickling

of nourishing rain: Dear Nancy,

we're glad to accept...

and my name

began to take root,


making me notice

when my husband would jerk it loose;

making me notice he used it, not even in tender moments,

but always and only to precede a snarl like some Puritan father

constantly chiding

an annoying child.


Nancy Tripp King