Pora Said Her New Name
We're all moving backward now, Arop said, like kosher
macaroons found on a small mosquito coast shelf in Nicaragua.
Like something left behind by British occupation, Arop storaged
a forearm-sized rabbi statue to pack against longing. While she kvelled
over local crustacean cuisine she wished for familiar Manishevitz font,
orange letters sprung like minor chords where her hunger
danced for one overpriced can. Arop ran past stilted houses, past growling
dogs, latrines and stones to netted beds anxious for the metallic wrapper's
shwap! to pluck the coconut sugary cakes past sharp edges. But from afar
the tin foil opened soundlessly to bronzed contents more rotten
than she'd remembered. Arop decided, "My new name's Pora," She migrated to honey,
mourning songs, warm showers. To sooth herself she sung of lice
in different languages with juvenile girls on their coasts of poverty and despair:
Yo me casé con un chico de mi barrioque tenía piojos." Pora,
no longer Arop, said her good-byes, removed black and white photographs,
and spray-painted the frames.
Melisa "Misha" Cahnmahn-Taylor, Professor of Language and Literacy Education at the University of Georgia, is the author of Imperfect Tense (White Point Press, 2016), and co-author of three books, Teachers Act Up: Creating Multicultural Learning Communities Through Theatre (Teachers College Press, 2010) and Arts-Based Research in Education (Routledge, first edition 2008; second edition 2018). 2018 she was the plenary speaker at the English Teachers Association of Israel in Jerusalem. Winner of three NEA “Big Read” Grants (Robinson Jeffers, Edgar Allan Poe, Yu Hua), the Beckman award for "Professors Who Inspire Social Change," and a Fulbright for nine-month study of adult Spanish language acquisition in Oaxaca Mexico, she is also the poetry editor for Anthropology & Humanism and judges the journal’s annual ethnographic poetry competition. A graduate of the New England College low-residency MFA program and the University of Pennsylvania’s Educational Linguistics doctoral program, her numerous poems, essays, and articles about language learning have appeared in the Georgia Review, American Poetry Review, Women’s Quarterly Review, Cream City Review, Barrow Street, Puerto Del Sol, Mom Egg, Anthropology and Humanism, Language Arts, TESOL Journal, and many other literary and scholarly homes. She posts events and updates at her blog http://teachersactup.com. She lives in Athens, Georgia with her husband and two children.