Cartouche

My name means “Crown” in a foreign tongue

though I doubt my parents knew it,

or that they hoped one day to

witness my Coronation, but I might have been

De-tan-a-ma-ka (He Who

Stands Alone With His Gun) or

Ahmose (The Moon Is Born).

 

My sister was Mukantagara

(Born During War) but remains plain Cathy;

my daughter could be

Piotopowaka (Bird Who

Came Home) but is content with

Battle-Maiden, though her battle is

with health; perhaps I should be glad

my wife is not Coth-co-co-na

(Cutting Off Head Woman), though

sometimes it’s a close call when I am

Cutapuis (Doesn’t Talk).

 

Perhaps we should all choose another name,

something to describe ourselves in all our

glory, folly, love, hate, madness; in all the

richness of our successes and failures; in all the

dripping excess of our humanity;

something to sum us up like a

cartouche chiselled into a sun-baked tomb.

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