7 Warsan Shire Poems That Just Get Me

Some of you may not have known who Warsan Shire was until Beyoncè's Lemonade visual album released on HBO, and you heard some of her poetry being read by Queen B, herself. However, if you've been reading this blog for a while, then you may know that I've posted about Shire before (a few times, actually). I don't remember how I came across her work, but I'm glad I did, because there are few writers whose poetry really hit me at my core.

There's no doubt the 27-year-old Somali-Brit poet is ridiculously talented, and every one of her words seem to perfectly describe a piece of me that I never thought could be so accurately described by a perfect stranger. With that said, I've decided to share a few of my favorite pieces from Shire, because maybe her words can find a home in your heart, too.

  1. “give your daughters difficult names. give your daughters names that command the full use of tongue. my name makes you want to tell me the truth. my name doesn’t allow me to trust anyone that cannot pronounce it right.”

2. “every mouth you’ve ever kissed was just practice all the bodies you’ve ever undressed and ploughed in to were preparing you for me. i don’t mind tasting them in the memory of your mouth they were a long hall way a door half open a single suit case still on the conveyor belt was it a long journey? did it take you long to find me? you’re here now, welcome home.”

3. “I’m not sad, but the boys who are looking for sad girls always find me. I’m not a girl anymore and I’m not sad anymore. You want me to be a tragic backdrop so that you can appear to be illuminated, so that people can say, ‘Wow, isn't he so terribly brave to love a girl who is so obviously sad?’ You think I’ll be the dark sky so you can be the star? I’ll swallow you whole."

4. “i don't know when love became elusive what i know, is that no one i know has it my fathers arms around my mothers neck fruit too ripe to eat, a door half way open when your name is a just a hand i can never hold everything i have ever believed in, becomes magic. i think of lovers as trees, growing to and from one another searching for the same light, my mothers laughter in a dark room, a photograph greying under my touch, this is all i know how to do, carry loss around until i begin to resemble every bad memory, every terrible fear, every nightmare anyone has ever had. i ask did you ever love me? you say of course, of course so quickly that you sound like someone else i ask are you made of steel? are you made of iron? you cry on the phone, my stomach hurts i let you leave, i need someone who knows how to stay.”

5. “two people who were once very close can without blame or grand betrayal become strangers. perhaps this is the saddest thing in the world.”

6. “you are a horse running alone and he tries to tame you compares you to an impossible highway to a burning house says you are blinding him that he could never leave you forget you want anything but you you dizzy him, you are unbearable every woman before or after you is doused in your name you fill his mouth his teeth ache with memory of taste his body just a long shadow seeking yours but you are always too intense frightening in the way you want him unashamed and sacrificial he tells you that no man can live up to the one who lives in your head and you tried to change didn't you? closed your mouth more tried to be softer prettier less volatile, less awake but even when sleeping you could feel him traveling away from you in his dreams so what did you want to do love split his head open? you can't make homes out of human beings someone should have already told you that and if he wants to leave then let him leave you are terrifying and strange and beautiful something not everyone knows how to love.”

7. “how far have you walked for men who’ve never held your feet in their laps? how often have you bartered with bone, only to sell yourself short? why do you find the unavailable so alluring? where did it begin? what went wrong? and who made you feel so worthless? if they wanted you, wouldn’t they have chosen you? all this time, you were begging for love silently, thinking they couldn’t hear you, but they smelt it on you, you must have known that they could taste the desperate on your skin? and what about the others that would do anything for you, why did you make them love you until you could not stand it? how are you both of these women, both flighty and needful? where did you learn this, to want what does not want you? where did you learn this, to leave those that want to stay?”