After American slavery ended
(Some may know the story)
my great grandfather took on
the last name of the family
he worked for, that is, the ones
who owned him as chattel, as property.
It is an American story,
a rite of passage, perhaps,
to full citizenship. Almost. Maybe.
Maxwell. Scottish. To this day.
That family was originally from Scotland.
their blood still runs through my veins.
My dad was the first Raymond
in his clan. There have been many since,
Cousins who wanted their sons
To be like him. Minus his faults,
Protector. Wise Counsel.
The name took many shapes
as it migrated across Europe
from Arabic and Hindu roots.
Rahman, the Beneficent God,
showing mercy to all creation
(in this world), became,
after the Islamic conquest
of Spain and Portugal,
Raimundo, King of the world.
In Spain he was Saint Raymond,
Patron of expectant mothers,
the falsely accused, and priests
defending confession’s confidentiality.
He joined the order of Mercedarians
and freed hundreds of Christian slaves
from Muslim captivity.
My father always said it was a good name.