People sometimes confuse me for someone else they know
because they’ve projected an idea onto me. I’ve developed
a second sense for this – some call it paranoia, but I call it
the profoundest consciousness on the face of the earth.
This gift was passed on to me from my mother who learned it from
solid and socially constructed doors whooshing inches from her face.
It may seem like a lie to anyone who has not felt the whoosh, but
a door swinging inches from your face is no joke. It feels like being
invisible, which is also what it feels like when someone looks
at your face and thinks you’re someone else. In graduate school
a teacher called me by another woman’s named with not even
brown skin, but what you might call a brown name. That sting
took years to overcome, but I got over it and here
I am with a name that’s at the front of this object, a name
I’ve made singular, that I spent my whole life making.
Carmen Giménez Smith, “Origins” from Be Recorder. Copyright © 2019 by Carmen Giménez Smith. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC, on behalf of Graywolf Press, graywolfpress.org.