56: Name that Means Holy in Greek

February 11, 2019 · 5:00
0:00/ 0:00

Name that Means Holy in Greek
by Kim Addonizio

                        —for Aya

Today I heard your name shouted
by a short-order cook
flipping scallion pancakes in a grease-
grimed Chinese restaurant.
He said it meant Wow
which is the best word I know
for the unutterably sublime. Wow
is how I had the dumb luck
to become your young and terrified mother
not knowing how to hold you
in the hospital parking lot
while your father got the car.
It seemed to take a long time.
Wow, it seemed to take ten minutes
for you to get your driver’s license
and move away to New York.
I remember the moment we made you
and knew we had, your father
lifting himself up off the bed and laughing.
Little hawk, Sumerian goddess,
Kachina that races the wind.
The verses of the Quran are Ayas.
In Japanese, full of color, or beauty,
though once inked for me
as “tomorrow’s arrow.” The secret
ingredient in the chef’s special, a marinade
containing Aya. First word
spoken by a rose, last word the trees
say at night as they lie down
in the forest and fields, last sound
I’ll make, if I can still speak at the end,
my palindrome, sword, storm wind.

“Name that Means Holy in Greek,” from MORTAL TRASH by Kim Addonizio. Copyright © 2017 by Kim Addonizio. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.