Cathexis Northwest Press

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Jasmine Flower
00:00 / 01:15

I never asked my mother 

for the list she made 

of other names 

I could have been

the day I was born.

I knew the one she gave me 

was the only one she loved, 

name I bent into a boomerang 

so it never quite sounded 

like its Arabic origin, so   

I could blend 

in my American schools 

the way a bird will press 

brown feathers 

against the grass, become 

the grass even though 

I hungered 

for the way my family 

pronounced my name, 

“s” in the middle long 

and soft: a song, a lost note, 

a scent I knew once 

on my mother's skin, 

leftover garlic and salt 

leftovers

of the person I was.

My mother named me 

a small, white-petaled flower. 

When she would stumble 

on this plant in the store 

or the street

she’d announce in her tilted 

accent “Ah Laaaaa” 

with her nose buried deep 

in green leaves as if 

she had seen me that day 

for the very first time.

Yasmin Mariam Kloth's creative nonfiction and poetry scratches at love, loss, place, and space, with a focus on exploring her Middle Eastern heritage. Her work has appeared in such journals as Gravel, West Texas Literary Review, JuxtaProse, O:JA&L, the Rockvale Review, and others. She lives in Cincinnati, OH with her husband and young daughter.

"I originally wanted to write a poem about my daughter's name, but each time I would draft a few lines, I kept returning to a memory of my mother and the joy she exuded whenever she came across Jasmine flowers. I started to write the memory down, and in time the poem told the story not of my daughter's name, but of my own."