To The Daughter I Don’t Have, On Her Name | by Laura Gill

When I think of what I want your name to be, I think of the undoing of a corset, and I want it to resemble laughter.

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441 WORDS | 3-MINUTE READ 

I want your name to roll off the tongue without rolling off the tongue. I want the vowels used to be vowels that take shape. You could say that every vowel has a shape, is a shape, looks like a shape, but the vowels I want for you are ones that carry the weight of your full being. It’s something people will say to you—you contain multitudes. Just recently, a friend of mine joked about it and said: “I contain multitudes.” He had a beer in his hand; he was laughing. I don’t want to be the type of person that gets all fatalistic about how society wants to strip you of your multitudes, but just in case, I do want your name to ignite the vastness you carry. It needs to feel like glass. Not actual glass, but the glass that covers a lake. The kind that a deer could die in—the kind that encases life. I don’t want you to feel burdened by your name. I don’t want you to have to lug it around with you everywhere you go, telling people, over and over again, “I know, I know, my mother, she was a bit too serious about the whole name thing.” If its a suitcase, I want it to be the kind that is soft on the outside. It should have wheels that don’t break and zippers that breathe. When I think of what I want your name to be, I think of the undoing of a corset, and I want it to resemble laughter. The silent kind, the loud kind, the full body kind, even the embarrassed kind. Your name will be a dance hall full of laughs; each laugh, in its own dress. I want your name to be designed by an architect who has utility and beauty in mind; I want it to gather the sun. I want it to pay itself attention. I think your name will be like a photograph I took this morning—a photograph of tiny buds. I found them after I pulled back a dying leaf. The leaf didn’t come off easily, and I’m not sure if it that’s because it was protecting what was new, but these three, little, green knobs were fresh. They were entering. They were becoming. Your name will be full of what’s to come.


Laura Gill is a writer, editor, and photographer. She received her MFA from Bennington College, and her essays and photographs have been published in Agni, The Carolina Quarterly, Electric Literature, Entropy, and Memoir Mixtapes, among others. She is a contributing editor of nonfiction at Hobart.


Photo by Aditya Romansa on Unsplash