Names Are Spells

Names are spells

My mother knew this

So my brother’s first name was to make sure he was strong and his middle name was to ensure that he would be rich.

Names are spells

My mother knew this

So she named me for her mother

She gave me the name of the first person to love her. 

I took the name my mother gave me as proof of her love.  

It covered my welts after beatings and soothed my spirit after all the shouting and shaking

I wore my grandmother’s name like a mantle upon my shoulders 

and even though I wove the threads of it into my heart 

the weight of it around my throat became something I never quite got used to.

Irene McCalphin 

Irene Solonge McCalphin

I wrote it into notebooks 

mimicking my mother’s pristine hand

I scratched and scrawled those letters like the spell it was

a binding, 

a promise to be everything that was expected of me

That she expected of me.

So when I tell you that I changed my name know that it was not done lightly,

When I tell you that I changed my name know that it was an intentional undoing

When I tell you that I changed my name know that it was ritual and death and reclamation

My mother says she named me for her mother, 

the first person to love her was also the first person to leave her.

The woman who her father married after would see my mother’s mother standing on the stairs and begged a new house from her new husband

and so my mother lost her mother twice

When my mother passed me her mother’s name 

she passed all her rage and grief and of being left behind with it.

I was 38 when the mantle of this name finally began to shed like a snake’s skin.

it happened while waiting for the medicine to make her pupils to dilate 

She told me that even though she never trusted my heart

even as a toddler 

she was willing to stop testing me

Besides, my brother and she weren’t speaking anymore so she might as well try with me

The thread rooted so deeply into my heart space frayed in such a painful way that I realized it didn’t belong there in the first place 

as it unraveled and unwound

as the tightly knitted knots came loose 

memories came with them

Refreshed, renewed, re constructed into more accurate reflections

my heart broke as seams shredded and as that mantle slipped from my shoulders so did the illusion of love without conditions.

Names are a spell

And mine was cursed 

So I renamed myself.

2 Comments Add yours

    1. Rawiyah says:

      Thank you for seeing this and seeing me!

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