in sounds that cannot

My little flower--my hana-chan, the letters started.

Amy felt the shock of those words burning through the screen. This name was secret. How could this stranger, this lover Anna had never told her about, know something that was so private, so sacred to the family?

For only in the family was Amy "ahh-MAY" and her twin sister Anna "ha-NAH" like the Japanese rain and flowers that her grandmother, Sophie, had suggested they be named for.

Her mother, Kit, had absolutely refused to use traditional Japanese names. "Mother, you got lucky with Sophie. You didn't have to go through the hell I did with a foreign name. I was teased enough about my name until I changed Yukiko to Kit, and these kids won't have to go through life teased about theirs if I can help it. They will have good old-fashioned American names if I have anything to say about it," she had said to Sophie on the last minute telephone consultation from her hospital bed after the twins were born. At that point, Amy's great-grandmother Yuki had chimed in something from the bedstead in the living room and Sophie put the phone down, wiped her hands on her apron, and went to see what it was.

She came back on the line with a translation of sorts: "She says they are Yonsei, the fourth generation, and she doesn't think that word should exist in America. She says to let them be American." Sophie could almost see Kit 's truimphant grin, her dyed red curls cascading down the blanched white hospital gown.

"Wait," Sophie pleaded. "You could name them Amy and Anna. That sounds a lot like the Japanese words. And no one outside the family would know about it." There was a lot of commotion on the line, Sophie would tell Amy over and over again.

Sophie still says that she has no idea what would have happened if Richard had not walked in at that moment and asked for an explanation. She says she could hear Kit giving an exaggerated account of her request--at which point, Kit always rolls her eyes to the ceiling. At any rate, Sophie then concludes, Richard liked the idea and went right off to tell the nurse that these were the names they had agreed to. But Kit still insists that the names be spelled and pronounced in English.

Except in the confines of family.

knowing / lost words / drown / in sounds that cannot / merge into meaning / the danger in / words of / melted water

the word is / the sound / of water / dripping from/ ancient symbols / tiny particles / of merging / realities

Follow us all: Amy/Anna, Sophie/Yuki, Kit/Richard, minor characters or sift through water leavings and river journeys.