Prairie Fire - - TAMAR RUBIN -

Not a Cana­dian ‘eh’

at the end. No short aahhh, ei­ther

when you re­al­ize I

didn’t spell or say my own name wrong.

The na­tive speaker’s way is sticky brown,

uvula vi­brat­ing arrr: Ta­marrr

against the gluey peel of dates

cleav­ing tongue to roof of mouth.

A dif­fer­ent name, hard to say in English.

Ta­mara, nice

name, where are you from?

Be­fore Christ. Not nice.

Am­a­teur har­lot and sis­ter of Am­non.

A tree. The jun­gle

of Jerusalem,

a house in the old Ger­man colony turned Swiss

em­bassy. My par­ents:

Beau­ti­ful and Not Po­lite, and Son of My Right Hand.

A good fam­ily, trac­ing back to Queen Bathsheba’s


A name is not prophecy, but my par­ents hoped

I would be flex­i­ble and up­stand­ing

like my name­sake, the date palm, and not cling

to shame.

I took a pro­fes­sional des­ig­na­tion on the left,

kept my maiden name, on the right.

Now I go days choos­ing not to say

my mid­dle name, the cho­sen one.

I al­ways felt my fate dan­gling

be­tween right and left, on the arc of the sun

ris­ing east and fall­ing

left. In He­brew let­ters –

my name does not drag

ink. My writ­ing hand never dark­ens

from the im­print of palms reread­ing words back­wards.

My par­ents chose Canada, this name: Ta­mar,

Toronto. They could have cho­sen Jes­sica

and Jerusalem, or Re­becca, Regina. Or Tammy

and my nick­name would have been Tam,

a sin­gle He­brew syl­la­ble for sim­ple.

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