Warsan Shire’s poetry leaves us breathless and aflame. She is a Kenyan-born Somali poet and writer based in London. Born in 1988, she is an artist and activist who uses her work to document narratives of journey and trauma. Follow her blog, Twitter and tumblr and get her book, Teaching my mother how to give birth, here
“The Letter My Mother Would Have Written Had She Known English” by Warsan Shire
The women in our family are known for their lucid hearts
For the frightening vigour with which they love
And they way they let men eat from their open chests
As if their insides alone could offer redemption
As if their flesh could create portals for men to escape
The ugliness that they themselves created in this world.
If I could do it all again
I would’ve raise u in the sergenti
Where we could face east five times a day together and pray
Where the simple things would leave me enough time to tell you how much I love you
Daughter, I would raise you with my knees and fingertips
Small mercies would make u pious and all my children would love me more
Our faces would be ash covered
Hair laden with the winds of the harmattan
Your father would see the beauty in me that can only exist when he looks at me
And my stretch marks would be worth it all.
But this reality is not in shades of pink
Like the dolls with the fake smiles that you would
Point at, and I would say inch Allah
Knowing that I could never afford them.