A Portrait of The Artist As a Young Black Girl (IV)


What’s in a name?

One’s history, perhaps.

A lost history,

A Hebrew name given to the black girl’s ancestor,

By some Englishmen who owned him,

And before that, nothing.

What’s in a name?

Her history, perhaps.

Two Hebrew names given to the young black girl

With a hyphen in between,

One from her mother’s family, one from her father’s.

And though she had two last names, she only wanted one.

At first, she pretended,

That the second name didn’t exist,

Just an invisible name from a forgotten past.

But soon that wasn’t enough.

So whenever she had the chance,

She forgot to add her second name,

So she was just Davis,

And after that, nothing.

What’s in a name?

Her story, perhaps.

An Irish name given to the young black girl,

Not because she was brave,

but because her mama liked the name.

She changed the ‘C’ to a ‘K’ then added an extra ‘y’

because she loved the letter so.

And though the name never fit quite right,

That was the name she kept, for now.

What’s in a name?

A herstory, perhaps.

A name given to herself at seventeen.

Because she didn’t have a home.

So Chaka Rose became her name,

And the name became her home.

Chaka seemed strong, and when said softly,

Sounded like the gentle whispers of a wind goddess.

And Rose reminded her of the earth, of beauty, and of love.

She became Chaka Rose, because no one else could be.

A name, an alter ego, for a young black girl.


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