Warsan Shire, are you ready for her? For lessons on how to be human from this discreet and powerful poet, read on.
Questions for the woman I was last night, by Warsan Shire, 2012
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 desperation 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?
Home, by Warsan Shire, 2015
No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark. You only run for the border when you see the whole city running as well.
Your neighbours running faster than you, breath bloody in their throats. The boy you went to school with, who kissed you behind the old tin factory, is holding a gun bigger than his body.
You only leave home when home won't let you stay.
No one leaves home unless home chases you. Fire under feet, hot blood in your belly. It's not something you ever thought of doing until the blade burnt threats into
your neck and even then you carried the anthem under your breath only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets. Sobbing as each mouthful of paper made it clear that you wouldn't be going back.
You have to understand, that no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.
No one burns their palms under trains, beneath carriages, no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled means something more than the journey.
No one crawls under fences, no one wants to be beaten. Pitied.
No one chooses refugee camps or strip searches where your body is left aching. Or prison, because prison is safer than a city of fire and one prison guard is better than a truckload of men who look like your father.
No one could take it.
No one could stomach it.
No one skin would be tough enough.
The go home blacks, refugees, dirty immigrants, asylum seekers. Sucking our country dry with their hands out, they smell savage. Messed up their own country and now they want to mess ours up.
How do the words, the dirty looks roll off your backs? Maybe because the blow is softer than a limb torn off. Or the words are more tender, than fourteen men between your legs.
Or the insults are easier to swallow than rubble, than bone, than your childs body in pieces.
I want to go home, but home is the mouth of a shark. Home is the barrel of the gun and no one would leave home unless home chased you to the shore.
Unless home told you to quicken your legs. Leave your clothes behind. Crawl through the desert. Wade through the oceans. Drown. Save. Be hunger. Beg. Forget pride, your survival is more important.
No one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear saying-
Leave, run away from me now. I don't know what i've become but I know that anywhere is safer than here.
2 more heartbreaking extracts from her work that we can't help but share with you. So succinct and poignant, Warsan we adore you.
'Later that night I held an atlas in my lap, ran my fingers across the whole world and whispered 'where does it hurt?'
It answered. Everywhere. Everywhere. Everywhere' - What they did yesterday afternoon, by Warsan Shire, 2014
'Document the moments you feel most in love with yourself- what you're wearing, who you're around, what you're doing. Recreate and repeat.' Warsan Shire on Twitter, 2015.
By Abbie Miranda, Feb 2017.
* All photos are from Instagram, and all poems written by Warsan Shire. The first Young Poet Laureate for London. Bossy.