My mother wanted to name me Nina.
Talented, highly flavored and strong.
A woman whose voice spanned generations.
A woman whose octaves shook foundations and sensibilities.
A woman whose complexion challenged common colors, her tone an offering to forgotten gods.
Too dark, too dark.
Not acquiescing our assaulting assimilation.
Not a name for a baby lighter than a brown paper bag.
Not a name for a little girl conforming to the structures of script.
Not a name for a girl cowering in dank shadows nursing bruises like a wounded animal.
Not a name for a young woman violently rejecting her being
as if she could extract blood from stone.
A name for a woman come into her own like a prodigal sun.
Rough. Shining. Soft. Blinding.
A name for a woman that knows what she is.
A name for a woman who sang light into darkness.
This is not what they call me.