by Kelley White
My parents named me Kelley
It’s a fighting woman’s name
I like to think it came from Kali
But it might not mean the same
But a woman has her weapons
And more arms than she can claim
IMAGE; Statue of Hindu goddess Kali.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My boyfriend has been doing a lot of genealogy research of late. His family tree has Kelleys and Kellys on three out of four branches. Mine only has one Kelley branch. I was named after my great-grandmother Edith Kelley Outwater (1871-1968) who I knew as a strong woman, though blind in her old age, who loved licorice and storytelling. I was rather disappointed that my name, which I think my parents picked because it was “pretty” and cute (and just beginning to become popular in the 1960s) seemed to mean “warrior” in Gaelic. And somewhere I found this link in Indo-European languages to a woman I could celebrate. A Goddess! The poem was included in my “Poet-of-the-Month” feature last year for Beauty Poets online (from India).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pediatrician Kelley White worked in inner city Philadelphia and now works in rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in journals, including Exquisite Corpse, Rattle, and JAMA. Her most recent books are Toxic Environment (Boston Poet Press) and Two Birds in Flame (Beech River Books). She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.
AUTHOR’S CAPTION FOR PHOTOS: (Right) Edith Kelley Outwater near the end of her life, and (left) me, trying to look mysterious, in my dorm room at Dartmouth in 1974.