Saturday, 5 May 2018


Sub Rosa

by Betsy Mars


What’s in a name? A tale of many things
past and present.
As it happens, when I think
I remember childhood taunts
and oft-told stories of
the origins of my names, juxtaposed:
On the one side,
a beloved grandmother/mother surrogate
and on the other, an incontinent doll, Betsy Wetsy.
A savior, a cow, and a seamstress
all merged together under pressure to form
a multifaceted but conflicted image of what a
Betsy was
Davy Crockett’s gun. The woman who nurtured
the woman who nurtured me. A magic bus.

Betsy was expected to be rejected
for my middle name, Andrea.
More sophisticated, I was told,
but also indicative of dysfunction:
a tribute to my mother’s psychiatrist, André,
the man who nurtured the woman
who was neglected by her father
and rejected by her mother.
Not a common story in my white collar,
aerospace engineer, stay-at-home mom neighborhood.

What’s in a name? A chocolate bar
by any other name would taste as sweet.
The sound of Marsbar was cloying
and repetitive, alternating with
allusions to little green men and Uranus,
such ridicule unanticipated by my grandfather
as he abandoned his unspellable, unacceptable
name at the entry point
by force or by choice in favor
of the simplicity and grace and unbloodied
history of Mars, the God of War.

What’s in a name?
Had I arose by any other name, I would not be me.


* * * * *

"Sub Rosa" was first published by Silver Birch (July 2, 2015).

Betsy Mars is a southern California poet who is in a perpetual battle with change – finally coming to some kind of a truce, and at times even love and acceptance. She is an educator, mother, animal lover, and over-excited traveler. Her poetry has been published in a number of places, both online and in print, most recently in Sheila-Na-Gig, The Ekphrastic Review, and Red Wolf Journal. Writing has given her a means to explore her preoccupation with mortality and her evolving sense of self.