a short history of the princess


In ancient Greek, my name has origins
in the word for bees – honeybees,
and the honey itself. These days I have
come to understand what that means:
that I am heavy on the tongue,
best washed with water,
sweet for many, good with bread
and butter.

My dad tells me I was named after a singer,
and my mother wanted to name me Georgia,
which comes from Georgiana,
which comes from George,
which means farmer.
I know nothing about crops, only seasons
and how to close my eyes at night, five years old,
and hope I grow –
and how to close my eyes at night, twenty-four years old,
and hope I grow –

In the Filipino tradition
we take our mother’s maiden name
and scoot it behind our middle name
as a reminder that we came from a woman
who came from a man. Maybe this is why
I didn’t get Gonzalo
after Anne – or maybe it was just a mouthful.
But I’ve been told my full name is Melissa Anne,
no hyphen,
which means there is a blank space.

I want to fill it with grace
the way Mary filled Batangas
with showers of roses
and said, do not be afraid.

The only time I wanted to be called something else
was the first time you called me love.

The more names I have
the more I feel like I have a story—
Gonzalo and Tolentino
and Therese, from my confirmation
clinking glasses with God,
not church
and Villanueva.

It means new settler:
the day I was born new, an icicle
that melted slowly with the heat
of the world and the words
of men.

The soft s in Melissa
comes from the soft s
in disorder
from the quiet laughter
of snakes
after all of the apples
are gone.


Melissa Anne currently lives in the DC metro area. Her poetry and fiction have been published in Junoesq, FreezeRay Poetry, The Adroit Journal and the Scholastic Writing Award winners anthology, What We Remember, What We Forget.