Names

My name is hand-me-down re-purposed by my own hands

My maternal grandmother was born to a family of artists in 1931

Weaving yarn together with needles on the couch is how I remember her through my childhood

I started crocheting 2 years after her death because my hands didn’t know how to sit still

I have been told neither could hers

Painting was one of my first loves in life, always being the one in class to have paint on my face, my clothes, in my hair

Throughout the house her paintings hang like a warm reminder that I’ll carry her not just in my name but in 14 years of memories I try so hard to not let go of

The name I wear as a locket around my neck, paint dotting my clothes as the photograph inside

Some days I wonder if she would be proud of me now

But I am also very much my father’s daughter

Unapologetic in brute honesty, I am not a lady like she was raised to be

I talk with the rhythm of my ancestors, too fast, too loud, too uneducated

Maybe she beams proudly that I fight tooth and nail to get where I need to be and I can’t see through the stubborn eyes my father gave me

I still wear her name proudly, not giving anyone the satisfaction of claiming it doesn’t fit in their mouth, so I should find a new one easier for them to pronounce

It’s been five years since you left and all I can hope is that between books, you see my laughter returning, voice booming, and succeeding

 

For Ainslie Sr., from Lil’ Ainslie

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