Fanny Linguistics: Nickole - Poem by Patricia Smith
What people don't know about my name
is that my grandmother gave me that "k"
—my very own unexpected
those two strong arms and two strong legs,
that broom-handle spine—
that letter about no one with a name
same as mine has.
the same botched phonetics of all her
misspelled but fancy
as chandeliers—Latonna Lee, Candies La Rayne, Lesi Annett
—names that know never to drink
lemon water from a silver fingerbowl
but names that can be bobbed with a "y"
Now, she called me Koey, so don't expect me to respond
to the first nasal tone of my name
but the harsher cough
that follows, that typo tambourined
from the back of the throat. I'll answer to cold & coal & coke,
even hear that sound as a scoop of coco, something dry
from the tin, but warmed with a little sugar and milk, a name
while it's safe inside.
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