This quote was my first introduction to Warsan Shire. My name is difficult. Since I could spell, there has seldom been a day when I didn’t need to spell it, or explain how to pronounce it, or answer questions about it. When I was a child, I resented it and adopted a series of nicknames, but eventually I came to love my name, and to understand that names are important. Getting them right is important. I love the idea of my name as both a shield and a challenge. I love that I couldn’t find anything anywhere to tell me how to pronounce Warsan Shire’s name. Following this quote down an internet rabbit hole, I consumed her entire body of work in less than a month. She’s published a collection of poetry called Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, and she also publishes poems online.
This poem is from her Tumblr. Most of the pieces there are less structured than the works in the book, but I like the way she uses urgency as an element of structure. I also love the use of repetition in any form of writing, so this is the poem I chose for today.
first thought after seeing you smile.
by Warsan Shire
come with every wound
and every woman you’ve ever loved
every lie you’ve ever told
and whatever it is that keeps you up at night
every mouth you’ve ever punched in
all the blood you’ve ever tasted
come with every enemy you’ve ever made
and all the family you’ve ever buried
and every dirty thing you’ve ever done
every drink that’s burnt your throat
and every morning you’ve woken
with nothing and no one
come with all your loss
your regrets, sins
come with all the rot in your mouth
and that voice like needle hitting record
come with your kind eyes and weeping knuckles
come with all your shame
come with your swollen heart
i’ve never seen anything more beautiful than you.