God Given Name


by Alyestal Hamilton


God Given Name


My hair may be my crown of glory but my name is my inheritance
The wealth of my inheritance is carried in the crevices of the curves of the typography of
those who construct the makings of me
Like a shadow, inheritance follows my name around as it gets passed down from one
generation skipping the next delivered to me

What will I do with my inheritance?
I don’t really know

But I do know that I am tired
I am tired of other people asking me to iron out my name for them
Ironing out the three creases that come together and identify me
When all my name really identifies is that it is too large to be contained by a small mind
And too cumbersome for a lazy tongue to maneuver over

Although no suggestion box existed suggestions continued to roll in
With requests that my name be shortened if I would like to fit in
So for the sake of conversation I succumbed to that temptation

But today I say no more
No longer will I be accepting alternatives to my name
For I am not a thesaurus and have no synonyms

I do not know who you are addressing
Suppressing my blessing by guessing at the sounds and reaching for alternatives
All because you claim that my name is just too hard
Well I think you are just too lazy
And you don’t really want to know me
Because then you would be required to know how to say my name properly

No longer will I be like Theo
Dressed in the wrong brands
Wearing shirts sewn by untrained hands
Methodically stitching strange patterns together
All the while one sleeve was longer than the other

And while they were struggling to say my name wrong
There were other names that I would be called
Like Oreo, and teacher’s pet, and whitewashed
But here’s the most innovative name of all
They began to call me Carlton.
Not Ashley
Not Will
And I have like totally heard like Hilary before
But hearing Carlton was pretty unusual
But I didn’t want to rock the boat
In fear that they may call me Aaliyah
So I said nothing
And became a participant in a mutilated reality
That perceived me as being nothing more than a white person with a deep tan

Too black to be white and too white to be black
These names were not formed on the basis of my personality
Yet the were placed as the basis of my identity
Placed as expectations of my behaviour to conformity
All the while stifling who I was truly meant to be

So when you say my name please state it correctly
For it connects me to my family lineage and ancestry
Connecting me to people I’ve never known before
Except through old photos and papa’s monologues

All I want is that you say my name right
It has a long sounding ‘e’ that comes after a silent ‘y’
Its only three syllables short and only eight letters long
And it’s the name that I’ve been called since the day that I was born
So I’m not Oreo, or teacher’s pet, or chick with the afro mane
Please call me Alyestal
My God given name


Alyestal Hamilton is an emerging poet from Brampton, Canada. Her most recent publication can be found in the “Time” issue of BLACKBERRY: a magazine. Through her poetry she hopes that she will be able to express not only the deepest thoughts of her heart, but touch the hearts of others.