Unnamed

amywink September 28th, 2017

Unnamed

Each semester, I read
the names in my roster
and imagine the
wonderful stories
contained in those titles,
given by hopeful parents,
carried from ancestral history
into this rich classroom.

Prophets and saints
abound, along with
names that come charging
forward on horseback, wielding
swords of meaning and character.
There is such a radiant history
in those names, a roadmap
of human migration
and reclaimed identity.
Some carry so much
weight and significance
the burden must be
difficult to bear,
as the names become
targets in the widening
fear of the world.

One vibrant boy,
excited to write
about his beautiful car
and filled with effusive energy
of his culture, carried the
names of his prophet
and the father of three
religions into my classroom.

No pressure, I thought.

And later, he carried them
into my office
to quietly ask
that I do not use
his first name
in class.

In the silence
between us, we both knew
why he was asking
because at this moment
every Mohammed becomes
a Christ nailed by hate to
the unforgiving cross.

But I will not martyr him
by demanding he not change.
His fear is too great
for my anger on his behalf.
This is not the moment for it.
What he needs is to be seen
so I see him and say
“What if I call you
“Mercedes” instead
because
I know
you love
those cars?”
and I take him
into hiding.

His bright smile returns
from our sad reckoning
and I know he has been seen
I know he has been heard
as he beams and praises
“Oh, Miss Amy. Oh, Miss Amy.”
calling out in happiness
my true teaching name.

One Response to “Unnamed”

  1. Robinon 28 Sep 2017 at 1:45 pm

    Insightful, beautiful

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