Your Name means Laughter
– for Isaac
You asked me to paint
your room like a game,
the story of a boy fighting
giants, monolithic colossi
formed of moss and stone,
each muted color a stroke
of artist’s brush.
Is it any wonder that you see
yourself, so small, facing monsters
throwing shadows across a bleak
and forgotten landscape? You
cross the threshold of a decade
in a few months’ time, and yet
you’ve shouldered more than that
which breaks grown men.
Before you were born, before
a single soul believed you to be
a boy (the boy I always knew
you’d be), I prayed for a name.
I whispered through the walls
of your mother’s body. You
answered my voice with yours
rolling, pressing flesh within
flesh, stretching your world,
refusing to accept the space
you were given, forcing it
to respond. She would sleep—
we spoke and laughed. Even then
you fought battles too large
for a boy, for someone trapped
inside—you kept your mother
out of the war, just as you’d keep
me from the one in my head,
when she left us anyway.
On the day you were born,
we decided. I told you I wished
you would come—it wasn’t time, but
you came, hours later—you pushed
through hell and the walls
to find me. You turned your head
and looked in my eyes, even though
science says it is impossible.
So why does my heart break, seeing
you struggle with this fallen world?
You’ve already proven you’re more
than what they say, more than all
the trials, than those abandoning you,
falling short of what you deserve.
has failed you more times than not;
I see it in your eyes: The strength
to scale mountains and monsters
the world might throw at you.
I have always believed
there is power in a name; we are
not limited by what we are called,
but we can be emboldened by that
which is spoken into us. You are
unstoppable. You are
unbreakable. You have
always been a boy with the heart of a man,
carrying the sword of your intellect
and the shield of your faith.
You still make me laugh—
though now, I laugh at how I think
I must protect you, when you have
always been the one who rescued me:
You, age 1: Against my chest as I wept,
as you slept, in the night
while she was gone.
You, age 2: The reason I fought
for our family, for myself
when she returned.
You, age 4: Your bedtime laughter
the buoy keeping me afloat
at the end of a day.
You, age 8: The strongest reason
I came home from the pain
I know it sounds saccharine, but
you are my hero. So, yes,
I will paint it on the walls
of your world, in words,
in whatever strokes
and I will watch you
become the man
you already are, inside,
a warrior laughing
in a world full of giants
falling at your feet.