not misnamed

I use to wonder
if I should have been named
something that reminds me of the nopales I eat every morning,
sautéed with tomatoes, onions, potatoes, and chile.
A name with the smoky scent of tortillas I flip
on the comal. A name that illustrates the Mexican sun
breathing life into the Sonoran desert and
small, purple cactus flowers.

My name is Julie
Julie because my parents heard it on television
once and thought it was prettier
than cactus flowers. You see, my skin,
as deep as L.A. sands,
and my hair, as dark as burned corn husks,
confuse people.

I introduce myself,
and strangers say “Nice to meet you, Julia.”
I tell them that it’s only Julie
and they apologize. They say
they thought they heard me say Julia.

I think they heard Julia because
they think I don’t look like a Julie.


8 thoughts on “not misnamed

  1. I have a friend from fanfiction that is a 1st generation American, and her mother was from Mexico. She lives in Texas on the border, basically. She told me that she was annoyed that strangers would talk to her in Spanish, assuming she didn’t know English. She’s fluent in both. This poem is reflective of that sentiment.

    This was definitely my favorite line:
    “A name that illustrates the Mexican sun
    breathing life into the Sonoran desert and
    small, purple cactus flowers.”

    It’s so poetic and brings out the essence of who Cathy, and that she is proud of her heritage, not ashamed like perhaps her parents were. Or maybe they just wanted to fit in? My husband and I have talked about it and we decided to name our future kids in Japanese, but a name that Americans can pronounce.

    I’m starting to read more poetry. I don’t think it is something I will ever write, but it’s inspiring since I write, more like attempt XD, poetic prose. The New England Review posts some poems and fiction stories from their old magazines for free. It’s one of the more prestigious ones, and the poems are really good.

    From that issue I particularly liked the poem, “Moths.” I could see your poems fitting in here someday 😀

    • I feel the same way as your friend sometimes. Once, at an airport in Texas, I asked for directions in English and they responded in Spanish. It’s frustrating, and I’m glad I was able to convey that sentiment in this piece 🙂

      I’m glad you liked that line. It was my favorite, too. Oh, that sounds interesting. I wonder what names you both will decide on! It’s great that you two are trying to incorporate both worlds. 🙂

      Yay! I think poetry communicates beautiful images. Thank you for sending me the link–and I read Moths, it’s absolutely lovely! And awww, your comment is making me smile so much right now. Thank you ❤

  2. This is so interesting because I completely relate to the feelings expressed. I used to feel weird about my second and last name too. My second name is a tribal name, except I’ve grown up speaking English and Swahili, not our tribe’s language. My last name is my father’s and it’s a very Muslim name, except again I’ve grown up Christian having been raised by my single mum. I used to feel like I couldn’t relate to those names at all, but as time moved on I learned to embrace them in my own special way. Now anyone who hears my first, middle and last name automatically knows how to deal with me, I think because I’ve finally learned how to deal with myself 🙂 Thanks for writing this Julie, it was beautiful.

    • I feel this way too sometimes about my first name, Julie. I’m glad that you’ve learned to embrace your names. It’s interesting how sometimes we feel like our names shouldn’t influence who we are when at times, they do. You have that part of your tribe still with you–along with your Christian identity. Your name is a mix of where your from and who are you, which is a beautiful thing. I’m glad you were able to relate to this 🙂 And thank YOU for reading ❤

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