Say My Name
My name was my name before I walked among the living before I could breathe before I had lungs to fill before my great grandmother passed and everyone was left to grieve My name was birthed from a dream A whisper from gods to a king A shout into the stars that produced another that shone as bright They held me without being burnt, humming lullabies in pidgin My name was passed down from my ancestors They acknowledged my roots grew in two places So, they ripped my name from the ocean and mixed it into the bloodlines of my totems My name has survived the destruction of worlds and the genocidal rebirthing of so-called ones It’s escaped the overwhelmed jaw of the death bringer Many a time It has survived the conflicts that resulted in my gods, from both lands, knowing me as kin, but noticing that I am painfully unrecognisable and lost They are incapable of understanding the foreign tongue that was forced on me My name has escaped cyclones and their daughters It has been blessed by the dead As they mixed dirt, salt and liquid red, into my flesh My name is the definition of resilience It is a warrior that manifested because of warriors So, excuse me as I roll my eyes or sigh as you mispronounce my name over and over again Or when you give me another that dishonours my mother and father That doesn’t acknowledge my lineage to my island home or the scents of rainforest and ocean foam You will not stand here on stolen land and whitewash my name For it is two words intertwined holding as much power as a hurricane Say it right or don’t say it at all For I am Meleika I will answer when you call
“Say My Name” from Fire Front: First Nations Poetry and Power Today by Meleika Gesa-Fatafehi. Copyright © 2020 by Meleika Gesa-Fatafehi. Used with permission of the poet.
This poem was originally read in the Poetry Unbound episode “Meleika Gesa-Fatafehi — Say My Name.”