A Poem in Which No One is Named Bob
In a conversation with my therapist
I referred to you as Bob. Your name is not Bob obviously
and upon thinking to call you Bob I quickly wished
that I had picked a more imaginative fill in.
My therapist, whose name is not Bob either
said no one is named Bob anymore
at least not like they used to be—
I had a grandfather named Bob
until he was incinerated
and spread among Long Island Sound
a context in which it would be absurd
to refer to him as Bob or anything.
“Look, there is Bob drifting towards
a docked boat! And Bob, a fleck
of ash bobbing beside the pools
of moss and plastics!”
“Lucy, we have to separate reality
from the stories we tell ourselves,”
my therapist said, probably still thinking
not of my misplaced sentimentality for “Bob”
but of the popularity of children’s names
in various periods of the 20th century,
“I think you cause yourself to suffer
because you feel inconsequential
to Bob,” he said. “But you have to realize
that attributing your pain to Bob is a construction.”
He seemed to suggest that the falsity of Bob
was a great ship I had built and set on fire
without realizing it. Outside, snow
was burying the recycling bins
waiting by the curb of the Student Health Center.
I thought of this, and of this poem
which is a construction too.
Lucy Tiven is a student at Kenyon College, a small liberal arts school in Gambier, Ohio.
“We didn't have a front porch at first. We had many strange and frivolous things: a fish pond filled with loud, intrusive frogs, an oddly placed jacuzzi. Finally, one summer in Michigan, we had a porch, but there was a table on it with one leg that was shorter than the rest and no matter how many times it collapsed we kept placing objects on it.”