Standing in my Gitane-blue dress among pristine legions of Nathalie, Christine, and Isabelle, a sea of white at our First Communion, I hear Cush, the Angel of Relevance, whisper in my ear: “Do you sometimes feel that you are not who you see in the mirror?”
It’s not Melissa Millicent Mellisandy Messianisme or Melissandre (WTF). It's not Mailsand except in high Californian, Mailsand, like a beautiful fish in the mouth. It is an acute fever, accented, un s entre deux voyelles se pronounce z.
Mamimi is what my mermaid sister called me, as I sat on my edge of the seat. Time has been fair, in that respect: I am here to tell the story. It’s a Spring name that erupts with branches, impatient, pushing, pulling and rhymes with sweetness and honey. It is not my last name, another complicated maid with long, blond hair that my father changed to Italian when he took over a restaurant. There is a simplicity there that I still miss.
A d for my mouth, made to eat books, a school of booklovers, the patron saint of books: there is no escape from destiny (for a girl born on a Tuesday. Do charities on Tuesdays to avoid bad luck and a great success: your brains generate more discreet memories on a Tuesday).
It is not an origami name, to be guillotined to Mel or Millie. Méli is my double, Sad(e), the sharp current inside, the easy wound, the mark on my face. When I met another man in listen in a waiting room in Brighton, we stared at each other with porcelain eyes, and said nothing. She had stolen my name, ma chevelure obscure.
It's pronounced … (trails off, defeat in the voice and heart) and rhymes with nothing. In French, the skin is also removed. Butchers. This mass of elastic bands in the mouth is so hard to say: afar is a language, too. Rubble crushed into the clay of northern France, my name is now a campsite for sale. How we have fallen in the world!
It is your good fortune to know my name, its animal strength, its refined anger, a large hand gesture dovetailing as if meeting it for the first time. Its vowels are so approachable: the A red, an open fist, I, wandering soldier, cigarette-paper thin, and the last E, silent, nestled like a Ribbon snake, black as Rimbaud’s verse.
Copyright © Melisande Fitzimons, 2022