Call Me by Your Name

You were already gone when I grew up.
For ages I didn’t even know your name.

I sometimes saw your father doing the
weeding, or your mother coming out for
the grocer’s van.

Only much later, about a year ago,
she stopped me on the street.

She said – old now and grey – ‘You
know,  I talked about all kinds of stuff,
but left the most important thing unsaid.

‘Why didn’t I speak up? Why did I
avoid the subject? Was I scared of
repercussions? Were the times too

‘In those days there were no rainbow
flags here in the village.

‘I wish I’d had the courage to boast
about my boy, the way your mother
did with you.’

The conversation was quite short, but
since then every time I’ve seen those
flags I’ve thought of you – my unknown

And of course sometimes your father
weeding his garden.

But most of all I think of the one whose
need for that symbol was probably
greatest  – at the checkout in the grocer’s
van or talking on the street.

A story only becomes a story when you’re
allowed to tell it.

Yes, I think most often and longest
of your mum.



Translation: David Colmer