I love the “C” in my name,
but lately I’ve been curving that
open-mouthed belly into an “X.”
“X” because the ghosts
of a forgotten history
have filed themselves
into my tongue,
switch blading,
arrow head to
being formed
into something

“X” because I’ve been punctured
with bee venom, and still
refuse to forget
the taste of honey.
“X” because I never learn.
“X” because this can be
good or disastrous.

“X” because I didn’t
choose a Christian name.
“X” because I’m debating
whether the name suits me.
“X” because I’m debating
whether I suit the name.
“X” because I never signed
the perforated line,
and I never claimed
the crumpled
Washingtons with
the red-water stains
and the swarm of
syphilis-laden blankets.
“X” because I open my mouth
and it crosses itself.

“X” because those
who bore
those who bore me,
were robbed of
more than gold,
just as I was
pushed out to sea
in childhood,
without swim in my legs
or a raft to dig nails into.
“X” because in my oceanic
loss, I learned to swallow
pearls, and keep them
smooth with the rough
sands stored beneath
my tongue.
“X” because I’d rather
go by a name that means
“Here. Here I am.
The treasure that
was stolen
has returned

to shore.”


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