(pt. 1)

I think when I say “anything but ‘it,’” what I really mean is, “Make some choices so I can see if they work for me. Call me ‘he.’ Call me ‘they,’ in the same breath. Call me ‘e’ or ‘xe’ or ‘nir,’ so I can hear it. Call me ‘she,’ even, but make sure I know you do not think me a woman because of it. Call me any neopronoun you might know how to use. Make one up, if you like. I’m collecting data, collating results. The only thing I know right now is ‘it’ doesn’t work. Call me anything. Call me anything else under the sun. This is science; that’s why it’s called ‘experimenting.’ Give me enough data points that I can discern any kind of pattern at all, because I don’t know exactly what’s going on yet.

Give me a multitude, that I might divine.”


(pt. 2)

It’s enough syllables to wrap around me like a cloak. Nine letters long: three by three. A pair of trochees like a coal in my hand. “Enough of a name to keep me warm,” I say, my lips upturned at the end, like a joke. Mayhap they’ll think so. But the truth lies buried like the warm ember at the heart of my name: it is warm. Nestled comfortably inside and a clear enough sound for the highest summer sky.

My last name was cool blue, bordering on periwinkle, and would sometimes fluff into wisteria when I gave it out whole. This one, that I picked, is sparks and embers wrapped in steady dark brown branches that never crumble away in ash. I picked a name that rolls amber off my tongue and tingles at the touch.

A name that keeps me warm resting in my voicebox and my heart and my core. A name that rattles its trochees in my hands and rings itself in the air inside my skull.

Alexander Burdette

Alexander Burdette is a multimedia artist whose work explores kindness, visibility, liminality, and the mundane. Eir work has previously appeared with Poet's Choice, Red Noise Collective, the Anderson, and the Kennedy Center. One of eir favorite words is "circummured."

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