In Praise of Difficult Names

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Wise are the parents who give

their children difficult names.

 

Names that are a chant to God,

a sacrament with every utterance.

 

Or names that light a fiery rebellion

in the mulling brain.

 

Names that speak of the glory

that was before the slave ships.

 

Names that display the wonder of sky,

the Eagle, Buffalo, Wolf, Deer.

 

Names that should hurt and choke

when mispronounced.

 

Braves names spoken

by brave and unafraid people.

 

Names shouted loud by those

who fearlessly, openly love.

 

Those who dropped their names

in the easy English soil, reclaim them!

 

Speak it in the accent of the old country,

the tribes of the African plain and rivers,

 

the screech, rumble of the clouds, creatures

that gave you your forever sound.

 

Gather your jewels from the ashes.

Mine them until they get their attention.

 

Collect the pieces of your lost continents

from their miscomprehension.

 

Your difficult names predate centuries

of their arrogance, ignorance, prejudice.

 

You are history

not their rewrite.

 

Don’t explain your name’s meaning

to those who have forgotten your story.

 

You are the original and

they are the stereotype.

 

Bend your syllables, vowels

into a new understanding country.

 

Keep your difficult names

proudly unassimilated.

 

Keep it

your home.