Sophia Graham – (Year 13, Epsom Girls Grammar School, Auckland)

Like Tea and Crumpets

I was almost Victoria Jane. Like tea and crumpets.
Like train stations. Like long gloves.

And then I wasn't. I was ‘baby Graham’
and at night, my mother,
smuggling me out of the hospital nursery,
would whisper names in my ear,
trying them on me like hats,
testing to see which ones tripped off her tongue,
and which got lodged at the back of her throat.

Daddy wanted to call me Grace. Like his grandmother.
Like lace handkerchiefs. Like hymns.

But my mother said Grace was a name for old ladies,
so the tag on my wrist was unchanged, my birth unregistered,
and my uncles, playing with my toes and counting my fingers,
laughed and called me Gertrude, Horatia, Augusta.

My aunt said that my name should be Lila. Like scented pillows.
Like dusty books. Like soft jazz.

Still my mother read books
and tried to find a name I could live up to,
while my daddy tucked me into my cot,
with satin trimmed blankets.

And then I was Sophia Claire. Like Greek philosophers.
Like Italian screen sirens. Like pink roses.

I was Sophia Claire. Like wisdom.
Like clarity.  Like me.