Ugly

Poem By Warsan Shire

Your daughter is ugly.
She knows loss intimately,
carries whole cities in her belly.

As a child, relatives wouldn't hold her.
She was splintered wood and sea water.
They said she reminded them of the war.

On her fifteenth birthday you taught her
how to tie her hair like rope
and smoke it over burning frankincense.

You made her gargle rosewater
and while she coughed, said
macaanto girls like you shouldn't smell
of lonely or empty.

You are her mother.
Why did you not warn her,
hold her like a rotting boat
and tell her that men will not love her
if she is covered in continents,
if her teeth are small colonies,
if her stomach is an island
if her thighs are borders?

What man wants to lay down
and watch the world burn
in his bedroom?

Your daughter's face is a small riot,
her hands are a civil war,
a refugee camp behind each ear,
a body littered with ugly things

but God,
doesn't she wear
the world well.

Comments about Ugly

Love this It paints a good picture.


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Other poems of SHIRE

Home

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

Her Blue Body Full of Light

Can you believe I have cancer? Yosra asks,
a mug of tea between her hands,
almost laughing, hair cut close to her scalp.
I imagine the cancer auditioning

Backwards

for Saaid Shire
The poem can start with him walking backwards into a room.
He takes off his jacket and sits down for the rest of his life;
that's how we bring Dad back.

What We Have

Our men do not belong to us. Even my own father, left one afternoon, is not mine. My brother is in prison, is not mine. My uncles, they go back home and they are shot in the head, are not mine. My cousins, stabbed in the street for being too—or not—enough, are not mine.

Conversations About Home (At The Deportation Centre)

Well, I think home spat me out, the blackouts and curfews like tongue against loose tooth. God, do you know how difficult it is, to talk about the day your own city dragged you by the hair, past the old prison, past the school gates, past the burning torsos erected on poles like flags? When I meet others like me I recognise the longing, the missing, the memory of ash on their faces. No one le