My Name – Sarah Isabelle Hayes (2)

We continue our series of reflections on names and naming with a poem by Sarah Isabelle.


Sarah Isabelle Hayes

My name is only two thirds of me
Mama told me I’m named after her favorite
grandma, Grandma Billy
Her name was Isabelle, but that was too
girly for her
So they called her Billy
She was strong
She was smart
She was a warrior
Isabelle means warrior
The gong on a battlefield
Commanding them to listen
Commanding them to follow
Mama said she picked Sarah way before I
was born just cause it sounded good with
Like peanut butter and jelly
Like sunshine and clouds
Like Sarah and Isabelle
Sarah means princess
Next to the queen
Next to the throne
Next to the crown
I’m a princess warrior
A strong woman
Feminine and fierce
Did fate decide my name to match me?
Or did fate mold me to match my name?
A martial artist
The first female instructor
A role model for the little girls
A princess and a warrior
To compromise femininity is to compromise
my strength
I am strong where the men are not
The flexibility to their rigidity
The compassion to their stoic façade
I stand alone, a rose, in a field of wheat

My name means princess
Even to those who were a stranger to me
I met him in the dark
Together we found warmth and love in each
other when the world only gave trouble
He is the strong sunshine to my clouds
I call him sunshine
I am the revered princess in his heart
He calls me princess
He did not know that was my name
When he learned, it did not surprise him
My princess, he said, I know
These parts of my name are me
These parts of my name are who I am
But one third is wrong
One third is dark
It is not me
It is not who I am
It is not someone I will ever be
Hayes, Sarah Isabelle Hayes
Tastes like hot chocolate on a summer day,
not sweet tea
Sounds a tuba solo in a children’s choir, not
a piccolo
Feels like darkness in a cave, suffocating out
the light
I used to be yellow
But I got older and I learned about the world
Not everything is good
Not everyone is worthy
Just because someone is a part of your life
does not mean they deserve your respect
I am purple now, a deep royal purple
Age changes you
Knowledge is a burden that weighs so
heavily on the mind that breathing is
hard sometimes
I knew I wanted out of the Hayes
And life is funny
When I stopped looking, I found what I
needed in the dark

I found my sunshine as he found me
A little broken, missing a piece
Missing one third of my heart
And one third of my name
He is the dimples to my smile, the kind of
smile that comes from your toes
He is the fruit to my sorbet, fresh fruit that
comes from a garden
He is the air to my breath, a cool breeze on a
summer’s night
He makes me whole
My heart
My mind
My body
My soul
He’s going to change my name
Three thirds of my name will be me
A princess
Powerful in femininity
Graceful with forgiveness
Eloquent with words
The sweet, sweet scent rolling off of the
mountain laurel trees
Satin and lace
A warrior
Strength from what can be overcome
Admired, but with a wary eye kept on the
blade of the sword
Three seconds is what it takes to kill
Two seconds to hurt
One second to scar
Fighting a never-ending battle for the other
warriors whose shields have yet to
protect them
Steel and fire
A rose with thorns

Something new
One more third
Completion in more than just my name
A love like the ocean, each wave bigger than
the one before
Like a tree growing in the spring, and
protecting itself from the harsh winter
Like the rain in a storm, each drop
splattering over the others
Like a fire licking at the edges of a forest,
eager to consume in its entirety
My name is me
And warrior
And him

Sarah Isabelle Warren


Permission was given by the author to publish this work on The SALSA Collective website. Many thanks.

In our class ‘Latinx Cultural and Artistic Expressions’ we read and discussed Sandra Cisneros’ story ‘My Name’ from The House on Mango Street. Students reflected on the importance of names and naming and wrote wonderful responses that we’ll share with you here.

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