As posted to the Domestic Violence Awareness: Making Advocacy Accessible Facebook Cause (to which I am a contributor).
As human beings we are blessed with the ability to express ourselves through language and, by extension, the written word. From the beginning of time, words have been used to capture the mundane details of life, identify objects, show the way to hidden places, record history, and foretell the future. There is also power in words where they allow us to share our innermost thoughts, feelings and ideas. Writing let’s us harness our energy, both positive and negative, and our words will bear witness to our lives. While we all have the ability to write ourselves into diaries, essays, blogs, journals, articles and poems, there comes a time when an individual will so accurately capture the essence of a movement with their words. Over a decade ago in 1995, Kimberly A. Collins wrote Remember My Name, a poem that has been used by Domestic Violence Awareness Month [DVAM] observances to memorialize victims that have lost their lives to domestic violence (take a moment to view the names of homicide victims across the U.S.).
For DVAM 2009, we share this poem with you in the hope that through written words we will never forget the names of those lost to domestic violence and that we should all heal through our shared connections and experience. You can read more about the author after the jump below.
Remember My Name
When you remember my walk upon this earth
Look not into my steps with pity.
When you taste the tears of my journey
Notice how they fill my foot prints
Not my spirit
For that remains with me.
My story must be told
Must remain in conscious memory
So my daughters won’t cry my tears
Or follow my tortured legacy.
is a tricky thing
If it doesn’t come
from a healthy place,
Doesn’t FIRST practice
it will act like a stray bullet
not caring what it hits
You may say:
Maybe I should’ve loved him a little less
Maybe I should’ve loved me a little more,
Maybe I should’ve not believed he’d never hit me again.
All those maybes will not bring me back – not right his wrong.
My life was not his to take.
As your eyes glance my name
Understand once I breathed
just like you.
I wish for all who glance my name
To know love turned fear – kept me there
Loved twisted to fear,
Kept me in a chokehold
Cut off my air
Blurred my vision
I couldn’t see how to break free.
I shoulda, told my family
I shoulda told my friends
I shoulda got that CPO
Before the police let him go
But all those shoulda’s can’t bring me back
when I lied so well
To cover the shame
To hide the signs.
If my death had to show
what love isn’t
If my death had to show
that love shouldn’t hurt
If my death had to make sure
another woman told a friend
instead of holding it in
If my death reminds you
you really are
If my death reminds you
to honor all you are
Then remember my name
from the center of your soul
in my grave
Let ME know
My LIVING was not in vain.
Copyright 1995 Kimberly A. Collins, Washington, D.C., reprinted with permission.
About the Author
Kimberly A. Collins is a mother, writer, poet and English Professor. She is also the founder of S.O.A.R. (So Others Ascend Righteously) where she facilitates Writing for Healing workshops and writes an inspirational column “Wednesday Wisdom.” As the first employee for the D.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence, she put a public face to the Coalition’s effort to inform and empower women, in the D.C. Metropolitan area, around the issue of domestic violence. During her tenure, Ms. Collins’ writing and oratory skills were in demand at various venues during October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month activities, and other venues including speaking on behalf of the D.C. Coalition about the Nicole Brown Simpson case on NBC Nightly News and during the Telephone Operators Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, where they were in need of an expert to inform their audience about the prevalence and dangers of domestic violence through statistics as well as through Ms. Collins’ poetry.
Ms. Collins’ poems about domestic violence are inspired by the testimonies of women she meets at speaking engagements, the Simpson case, the quilt of women who have and continue to lose their lives at the hands of men, and the women she helps to claim their voice through S.O.A.R.’s Writing for Healing workshops and retreats.
Ms. Collins is also the author of a collection of poetry, Slightly Off Center. Additional writings appear in major anthologies and magazines: Black Poets of the Deep South, In The Tradition, The Nubian Gallery, NOBO Journal of African American Dialogue, Theorizing Black Feminism, Fingernails Across the Chalk Board and in Catalyst, Heart and Soul, and Essence Magazines. She has written a bio on Ola Obesan for The Dictionary of Literary Biography, the volume titled Contemporary Black British Writers.