by Frank Morelli
What’s in a name? A title? Is it a simple attribution for the reference of outsiders? A sound that rolls from the back of one’s throat and attaches itself to an object for all of eternity?
Why did we decide that a dog is called “dog” and a frog is tabbed “frog”? And why did we also invent verbal alternatives like “canine” and “pooch” and “mutt” and “tadpole” and “amphibian”?
I see this business of naming is not for the meek. It’s an art born of common sense, forged in luck, and gilded through repetition. It’s a civic duty, an ill-tempered responsibility that hides its gleaming fangs and claws behind a set of bushy and jovial whiskers.
Picture one of those baby-naming books alone on a table, taxidermically-stuffed with future identities. They always make me think: Who will be the next Frederick or Gilda? Who will bear the weight of a “Norbert” or a “Harvey” or a “Beulah” even after it’s inscribed in stone and resting overhead?
Because there’s no escape. A name is forever. Even diamonds fade after millions of years, but a name? A name hangs on until the final human breath is fully exhaled.
And so, as I reach my valiant crescendo, I’m forced to ask: How do I lock these words behind the vertical bars? How do I force the provision of but a few syllables of sustenance? To do so would only catalyze a slow starvation in the bowels of a dark dungeon—with the kidnapped thoughts of literature past decomposing on the cobbled floor around it.
Or is my resistance destined to slide into the realm of futility, since the essence of writing dictates that its very existence is built on the creation of names—of labels that mingle together in the mind and brew new translations like the flavors in a simmering stew.
But I don’t want that stew. I don’t even like stew. It’s too messy, and I wind up spending at least two days peeling burnt layers of skin off the roof of my mouth every time I eat it. It’s too much responsibility—like this madness of giving everything a damn name.
I won’t have it. My decision is made.
I’m leaving this piece untitled.
And then I think: Is that not a name?
Frank Morelli is an MFA candidate and a rabid baseball fan. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Philadelphia Stories, East Coast Literary Review, Jersey Devil Press, the Ranfurly Review, and Monkey Puzzle Press. He lives in High Point, NC.