There he was carrying a tray of bygone
at a San Francisco Hilton. Surrogate for
husband #1. Food services manager, not
engineer. Fluid English, not timid. I stared
at his name tag; he asked if I thought he was
Polish. I’d know the name anywhere. That
dramatic day I’d met the ex across the bay
at UC Berkeley––the day JFK was killed.
The ex was carrying coffee in one of those
clunky white mugs––the ones my roomie
would sometimes stuff into her gigantic black
purse she schlepped from Anthro to PolySci.
The surrogate’s named Arezki. Algerian––
like the ex. I didn’t know an immigration lottery
existed, but Arezki was one lucky guy. I was
in San Francisco for a transplant––one lucky
guy, my grandson, getting a kidney from Mom.
“It’s like a birth,” I told Arezki. “Mother’s
giving life a second time.” “Un miracle, une
renaissance,” he said, still carrying my past.
I knew our meal would be perfect, like
the English of husband #2. Transplant to
Tujunga from the Bronx. Same name––
Norman––as today’s Maytag guy, one lucky
transplant from Moscow. There was Norman
carrying his black tool kit. Husband #2 carried
books with his name on covers and my name
in the acknowledgments. The repairman had
a tough job today: my Maytag needed a new
bearing. He told me, “You know, they put
Norman on my uniform. But I’m Armenian,
my name is Norayr. Hard to pronounce
in English. It means new man.” I think about
my grandson, the precision of the surgery team,
excision of one organ, its rearrangement into
the flesh of a 24-year-old’s tender body, which
will shelter the gift as long as it can. Today,
this boy shall replace his English name with
Norayr. One name shall be a surrogate for another.
Author of Museum of Rearranged Objects (Kelsay) as well as of five chapbooks, including If You Spot Your Brother Floating By and Casbah (Kattywompus), Judith Terzi’s poems have appeared in a wide array of journals and anthologies, most recently in Atlanta Review, Moria, Solstice Literary Magazine, and Spillway. Her poetry has been read on BBC Radio 3 and nominated for a Pushcart and Best of the Net. A former educator, she has taught French and English in Southern California as well as in Algiers, Algeria.