What’s your name?

by Huimin Wan

I invite you to butcher my name.
No, this is not a test,
Not a trick.
If you must take a cleaver
To this foreign critter
So you can swallow
Me in bits, then do.
This identity is open for business.

Scrunch your eyebrows and cheeks
As you chew, perplexed,
As long as you reach a bit more ease
By the time the aftertaste settles
Underneath your tongue,
So reliant on muscle memory.

Take this opportunity to ask my name’s origin
So I can tell you it’s the baby name my parents did not give me.
Ask me about my homonyms
So I can explain how Mandarin
Is more of a masterpiece than you thought
When you first gazed upon a tray of transliteration.

Next time you meet an East Asian name
Don’t sass the sounds you cannot yet spell
Or laugh at its place in English-speaking arrogant America,
Rather taste it like a new wine
Let it sit in your mouth for a moment and think.
Feel free to ask the expert to say the word again slowly
When you forget what you’re digesting
Because you’re still processing.

I invite you to butcher my name because
I don’t mind your sharp knife reaction.
Slice through this confusion
So in the future you can dine elegantly,
Eat gingerly,
And make your new friend
Feel at home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: