My father apologizes for giving me a western name
On the night of my birth, two years American
& in a moment of panic, my parents ran
through a list of words & plucked Mckendy
from the page, before slapping it across
my birth certificate like a Brand New sticker.
A decade later, I watched their marriage depreciate
but the story kept its value, despite my father's
mood-swings or the fights my parents would have.
he would recount the tale the same way.
We almost called you John he'd say before
bellowing with laughter. Twenty years later
after the divorce & fifteen since seeing him last,
my father shares this small regret & I wonder
if naming is a culture's way of colonizing a body,
if my tongue is just another island impaled
by French & American flags. & I want to say Yes
or No or My language is a country that the english
spreads across more & more each day,
but the creole is sacred text that I am (re)learning
to decipher, but most of all, I want to say Thank you
for making me a conflict to quell. I am writing
the most beautiful peace treaty
on the backbone of our history.
McKendy Fils-Aimé is a New England based Haitian-American poet and educator. He is a decade plus veteran of the National Poetry Slam and ranked 20th overall at the 2014 Individual World Poetry Slam. Mckendy has been an artist in residence for MassLEAP as well as the Art Alliance of Northern New Hampshire. He is a Callaloo Creative Writing Fellow whose work has appeared in The Collagist, The Journal, Callaloo, NAILED, and elsewhere.