Her Gift, My Name
by Amanda Justus

Greetings and salutations,
my aunt, not my parents,
named me Amanda.
This seemed to allow her
to tack her name of Gaye,
onto my moniker.
One worthy of love.
How could she know?
That at age three.
Just how tough
I would have to be.
No one could have foreseen,
the cancer eating away
at my then asleep womanhood.
Or how it would look weird —
having no hair,
to my kindergarten peers.
One worthy of love.
I was supposed to be happy,
and carefree.
No one told me I’d be a freak,
well before puberty.
I know it’s not her fault.
The harsh lessons,
my childhood taught.
Now I’m thirty-four
and I understand now,
more than I ever did before.
I am happy,
and worthy of love.
Here on Earth,
and from those,
who watch me
from above.

PHOTOGRAPH: Amanda Justus, age five, waiting to be dismissed after a round of chemotherapy (Grundy Hospital, Grundy, Virginia).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amanda Justus is a non-traditional English major attending East Tennessee State University. Along with poetry, she is studying Shakespeare and literary criticism. She will graduate in May 2016, and plans to continue her education from there. For this poem, she was inspired by her battle with cancer from age three to age six. She wrote about this experience in connection with the meanings and her first and middle names.