doe__eyes (doe__eyes) wrote in moosespresso,
doe__eyes
doe__eyes
moosespresso

btw, ali, this is poem number 7

My Last Name Is Hard to Pronounce

N-G-U-Y-E-N—
don’t worry, it confuses me, too,
how that set of letters
in that order,
can form such a simple-sounding name:

Nguyen
(a paradox of letters,
a potential identity gone astray)

my mother cringes every time
someone mispronounces our last name,
offering the correct pronunciation
as many times, and as often as necessary
and as her daughter,
I used to do the same
until I realized that I was making a fool of myself,
            my simplistic glossing of the letters
            a reflection of my own lack of touch
            with my heritage

contextual evidence – ethnic origin –
tell me
that there should be
accent marks and squiggles
above some of the letters
but those marks don’t mean anything to me,
and I can’t imagine
how people would then mispronounce it,
attempting to make all the letters heard
and accented in the right way – all at once

anticipating mispronunciation,
I occasionally tell people:
            “the N-G-U forms a W sound,”
but an English-speaker can’t resist
that blasted N, the out-of-place G –
I’m not sure I’ve ever heard
my name pronounced the way I tell people,
that is,
when I do correct people –
            which, after nearly 20 years
            of living with the name
            and the sometimes-humorous variations,
            is very seldom
            because though it grates on my ears
            when I hear all six letters enunciated individually,
            I can only repeat the correct way so many times
            and invariably, mustering a laugh at a botched attempt
            and saying “close enough”
            is much less taxing than trying to make someone
            get it right

 

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