Prolific children’s book author, Charlotte Pomerantz, shared this fabulous poem with Jay. She wrote it a number of years ago.
The Choosing of the Name
By Charlotte Pomerantz
We wanted a name, not too fancy or plain;
More common than Unagh, less common than Jane.
Francesca was different, yet not too bizarre.
It conjured up sea wind and moon and guitar.
Still it was earthy and gallant and strong.
Quite perfect in length; not too short, not too long.
So I called to report to my Brooklyn aunt.
When I mentioned the name, she said, “But you can’t!”
“You don’t like Francesca?” I said. “What a shame.”
“I adore it,” she said. “It charms and delights.
But Francesca is sweeping through Brooklyn Heights!
There are six on my block and one right upstairs.
There are days when one sees them strolling in pairs.
My Herbie has one in his piccolo class.
Flo says there are two in percussion and brass.”
So once more we sloshed through puddles of names,
More common than Cuthbert, less common than James.
We bumbled through names by the bushel, the peck;
Names a la Russe, a la Anglaise, a la Grecque.
We listed close relatives here and abroad:
Fabrizio, Vyacheslav, Shrulnik and Maud.
He thought of his kinfolk outside Milano:
Aunt Fortunata and Uncle Arcano.
I remembered some cousins in Leningrad:
One Stanislav (Stanley?), one Vladimir (Vlad?).
He remembered a distant cousin, Lavinia,
Who mailed him prosciutto first-class from Sardinia.
One night in his dreams, he moaned, “Grandpa Dante
Lived till he died in Delicto Flagrante!”
Then he woke up and said, “I cannot sleep nights
‘Cause Francesca is sweeping through Brooklyn Heights.
Who cares if it’s common as ailanthus trees,
Peanuts’ mementos or children’s skinned knees?
Francesca, Francesca — the name’s a delight.
Tell Auntie from Brooklyn to go fly a kite.”
The dilemna resolved, it seems fair to tell
That when she arrived, she was named Gabrielle.