A new poem by Eric Ormsby

J.A. Dimling’s Shadow

His master’s name was J.A. Dimling too.
He dwelt in the shadow of his master’s name.
His own original name, now unpronounceable
in his own mouth, had been misplaced somewhere.
But J.A. Dimling resided in his name,
not merely took it as a moniker but
moved right in and set up housekeeping
the way a cuckoo confiscates the nest
of some lesser fledgling and will spread itself
until it has usurped the whole abode,
so J. A. Dimling in his hand-me-down name
assumed full occupancy.  He basked
in a dignity no poorer for being used before.
His manners had a burnished gravity those
initials, meaningless to him, conferred. The
owner of the name, and of the slave, old
J.A. himself, in his nondescript, pale
persona, faded next to his bought and sold namesake,
the rumbustious, jocular J.A.
Dimling who took glory in his once-
worn appellation; who had those initials
whitewashed on his tilty, dirt-floored hut,
bestowed a lineage on his skinny kids,
(the eldest, J.A. Dimling III, in deference
to his pallid faded boss and creditor.)

As J.A. paled and thinned, his more
substantial shadow darkened and became
macadam-black, alluvial, black as
the backside of an old man’s tears,
until his well-fleshed shadow blotted
out the sunlight on the sorghum fields.
I am J.A. Dimling, he proclaimed
without surreptitious swagger.  As J.A.
dimmed, a Dimling diminished to
the finest wisp, his darker
double flourished and grew thick.