Because My Last Name Begins With A

by Steve Luria Ablon

Who wants to read first? Who will
take notes? A last name starting with

A is always first, always anxious,
always armed. So I never learn

to improvise, always on the line.
When we went to the park each day,

in kindergarten the teacher called on me
to cross Eighth Avenue, cars not even

slowing yet. In second grade I had to sit
in the front row under Miss Munson’s

blue hawk eyes, first to touch the turtle
in its bowl. Every sixth grade boy tried

to beat my hundredyard dash.
By high school time never ran out

before I was called to translate
a passage from Balzac, “There is

no such thing as a great talent
without great will power.” It wasn’t

until sophomore year Tom Aaron
moved to New York from Guam.

By then I want to be first, to get it
done, to take the risk, set the standard?

Even in medical school I was called
to do the spinal tap while the others

watched, some sympathetic, most
hoped for the worst, pain and blood.