A Letter of Complaint About My Name

Mother, I could not write as an amputee—

the American grafitti Cindy Williams
sufficed for the white Corporate planet
spinning in the green valley of silicon.
But I had to re-member my names.

I had to spell my name
for the first time: G-u-t-i-e double r-e-z.
And not just Cindy Gutiérrez—Cindy Williams Gutiérrez
because I couldn’t settle for a fraction of who I am.

Abuelita kept things simple. Or she simply
married for music: Isabel Gutiérrez Gutiérrez.

Now I write songs
about the Mexica who flowered
when your people occupied the continent
and who you claim don’t occupy the holes in your genealogy.

No mestizo branch in this family tree.

So how could you let your first grade teacher,
Mrs. Jones, change your name for good
from Ninfa Isabel to Elizabeth?
I don’t think King Ferdinand would approve.

And I don’t approve
of the gaps in the melody of my name—

Where does it chant with the wind
that Daddy Williams was born in Parral
in a mining camp where days indios shouldered ore
and nights stomped to el grito?

Where does my Williams half hint at a grandmother,
another Elizabeth stripped of her name—
Mary Elizabeth Cash—an erasure that cries:
Cherokee! Cherokee! Cherokee!

 

 

Cindy Williams Gutiérrez

About Cindy Williams Gutiérrez

Cindy Williams Gutierrez is a poet-dramatist who collaborates with musicians, thespians, and visual artists. Her collection, the small claim of bones, is forthcoming from Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe (Arizona State University). Poems and reviews appear in Borderlands, Calyx, Harvard’s Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, UNAM’s Periódico de poesía, Portland Review, and Rain Taxi. Her CD, “Emerald Heart,” features her Aztec-inpsired poems accompanied by pre-Hispanic music.
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