When I was born,
my father named me

Maiv Muam Nkauj Lig Lis

He believed my siblings and I
could be kings,
if given exceptional names

When we came to the United States
I became May Moua Gao Lee
The INS forgot "Lig"
Thinking it was the same as my last name
A mistake,
On our part

In first grade, my sister told me
how to spell my name
She giggled;
I didn't know why

In seventh grade, I was May Moua
But our principal called me May Moo
Other kids thought Moua was my last name

By ninth grade, I was just May
Though it was still too complicated to remember
Was it pronounced "My?"

When I married
People thought my first name was Maylee
My last name Yang
They still don't pay attention when I correct them

Last week,
a friend said
I had the simplest name in the world
When I told her my full name
Maiv Muam Nkauj Lig Lis
that it meant Mongolia
where legends say we originated
she wondered why I changed it in the first place