I have gone by many names, some chosen, some inherited, some thrown at me in anger, in scorn, in friendship.
Names add nothing to who I am, who I choose to be, who I am seen to be by the those who throw around names as if they were magical incantations, elixirs with great power that fall at my feet like shattered icicles of my not caring.
We are planning the funeral for Roe today, eulogies fully ready, for we are certain the death was slow and painful and now all we can do is mourn.
Some we know will not attend, Brown out of fear, knowing the eventual consequences of this loss, Miranda because he is already marked, hounded by those in power, an easy mark.
Sullivan may be there, happy that he can go after them again if they even speak his name innocently or by mistake.
It will be a sad moment, one we have dreaded of late, one we thought would never come and we will mourn our dear friend Stare Decisis*, stabbed in the back by those who vowed to defend him.
N.B. As you may know or have guessed, I am a happily retired attorney, who was taught that stare decisis should be sacrosanct. Brown is the landmark school segregation case, Miranda the much eroded protection for those under police custody, and Sullivan the case on defamation establishing a higher standard that plaintiffs must meet if they are public figures. It remains a hallmark of First Amendment law regarding freedom of the press.
Stare decisis is the doctrine that courts will adhere to precedent in making their decisions. Stare decisis means “to stand by things decided” in Latin.
As I was cutting up our breakfast fruit this morning, the name Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme came to mind.
I would have thought it would be Cesar Chavez, given half the fruit was from California, and I had no thought of Gerald Ford or any Republican President, never before at least one full cup of coffee and generally not even then, but there she was.
There was no reason for it, nothing squeaked, I hadn’t seen the new movie loosely about Charles Manson, and I couldn’t picture her face, which is just as well, but there her name was and I have spent the better part of the day musing on why, in what is already an upside-down world, a world where we have as much to fear from our leaders as our enemies, and it is ever harder to tell which is who, yet she came to mind, and I have to conclude, before the whole day is wasted in the effort, that it had something to do with mangoes.
When I saw you this morning I knew instantly that I hadn’t seen you in more than twenty years, although it is quite possible we have never met and today was the first time my eyes ever gazed at your face .
I suppose it is lucky that you did not recognize me although I don’t think I’ve changed all that much in twenty years.
I was going to call out your name, but decided against it in case you have changed it or, possibly because you wouldn’t answer to the name I choose to give you.
It was good seeing you today, let’s do again in a decade or so.
You came into my life last week, your name forever locked away inside her mind. My life, she felt, would never be the same and therefore left all thought of you behind. You loved her, I suppose, that summer night then left her, bearing me, until she turned me over for adoption, that she might forget the love that you so quickly spurned. A Jew, she said, but would say little more a father, Portuguese, is all I know, who cast his seed, then left and closed the door and me, the son, he never would see grow. You left her life long before I was born, the father I won’t know but only mourn.
First published in Minison Project, Sonnet Collection Series, Vol. 2, Sept. 2021