Violet is my Name By Diepreye Amanah

Violet is my Name

Don’t you dare tell it otherwise.
I walked into the fire with my eyes wide open,
my skin glistening with gasoline,
my hair dripping alcohol, my mouth full of sawdust,
and with cans of kerosene snug sweetly in my palms—
and it blazed—burned me through and through.
I would not pretend like those others do, and say
it made me stronger and wiser.
It burned me is all, until I was charred and crisp.
It burned me until I am cinder and dust.

You know. You know I listened when they said
that a father is a daughter’s first love, and I loved him.
I think he loved me. He was the first man
to praise the dull brown of my eyes, the timid tilt in my walk,
the gruff of my voice, the dark of my skin, the sour of me.
No one else would. No one else could.
When I looked to my mother, she put the Bible in my hands,
said God loves me. Said nothing else mattered; God loves me.
But my father, he watched my hips, the tiny curves of my breasts,
asked me to dance, to leap, to fall, so I did, like I was made for it.
When he offered the kiss, planted it in my heart
like a long overdue apology, I took.
When he offered more, I took.
I knew they used to be my mother’s and now they were
his wife’s and they should not be mine, but I took still.
I took his arms, his throat, his lips, his toes, his thighs
I swear I was looking for God.
It felt of God. It tasted of God. It looked of God.
The sweat on his forehead.
The scarlet on the sheets.
The bleak beauty.

But now I must leave. It ends tomorrow.
I am sick.
My belly grows.
I am afraid it would have his face and voice.
Then what would I say to his wife? To the people? To my mother?
So I must go. It all ends tomorrow
But you all must know:
Violet is my name.
Carry me in your hearts.
Violet is my name.
I am not asking for your pity.
I am not asking for your hatred.
Just that you see it as it is and tell it as it is:
I did not seek it but I did not resist it either.
Violet is my name.
I walked into the fire with cans of kerosene snug sweetly in my palms.
Violet is my name.
I choose you— you with your eyes on this solemn page
awe-struck, disgusted, intrigued, appalled—I choose you.
Remember me.

By Diepreye Amanah


Diepreye Amanah is a senior studying English and Comparative Literature at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her poems appear in Carolina Woman Magazine, the Health Humanities Journal of UNC, and as prize winners in the 2021 A.R. Ammons Poetry Contest. Her poem is forthcoming in Up the Staircase Quarterly.

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