Poem about identity: Do You Know Your Name?

February 16, 2021

Collage by Kishen with images by Kellepics and geralt from Pixabay

Kishen Patel explores the depths of what lies beneath a name and a face

When the plants die and the cars go still
Will you know my name?
Will you take one look at me
Think you know me
Before you know my name
Do you even know your name?

Because what’s in a name
Is more than just letters and syllables
There’s more than the two vowels
Four consonants you call me
There’s more than the label your mother gave to you
As she kissed you for the first time in that hospital bed.

Because what’s in a name
Is history, heritage and love
And even then there’s still much more
Than the six letters you call me
More to me than the colour of my skin or how tall I stand
More to you than money in your wallet or build of your body.

Strangers take one look at you and think they know you
And for a small moment, they do.

But they don’t see the way your face lights up
When you grab the last pack of doughnuts off the supermarket shelf
They don’t see the way you yawn when it’s 3 am
Turn over to the other side of the bed
They don’t hear your laughter
See the way you sip a glass of wine or hug your friends.

So they’ll glance in your face and think they know you
But under your name and skin lies layers of identity
Layers and layers. A person full of joy, sadness, anger and love
Messy handwriting, fingerprints, and friendships
Saturday evening thoughts and strands of hair in your sweater
Memories and mistakes buried under a couple of syllables.

So don’t let the world laugh a little at your accent
Ask you to shorten your name for them
Make sure they say it with their tongues
Write it on the front of your schoolbooks
Scratch it onto the walls underneath tunnels
Draw it in the sand and let the sea wash it away.

You make sure that when the plants die and the cars go still
People will still know your name.

Kishen is an undergraduate student at the University of Bath. Aside from studying Computer Science, he can be found thrift-shopping, reading, and writing. His guilty pleasure is Netflix crime thrillers.

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