Read salt. Online

Authors: nayyirah waheed

salt.

salt.

Copyright © 2013 Nayyirah Waheed

All rights reserved.

ISBN 10: 1492238287

ISBN-13: 978-1492238287

it was only and ever love.

for us

iyo. nchele. sira. muối. lonu. pa’akai. cho. masima. ama. wardan. ityuwa. noon. salila. munya. zede´. chewa. mith. nnu. lobon. hapi. letswai. juky. milh. sogum. mongwa. uppu. saahl. cusbo. îunkyre. tisnt. lun. nkyen. ambel. namak. gishiri. asin. chumvi. sohgoom. iam. malga. yim. loon. mungwa. shio. uyah. zhiiwitaagan. îukyra. gleua. isawudo. ta’ab. labana. meleh. ntsev. hoh-rum. aymara. nkyini. yán. tswayi. sotoe. nun. chumbí. garam. disel. nkyene. lu-nu. melh. tsira. nimak. sogidda. iztapinolli. loonh. muño. umuchene. mithu. kashi. nkyene. melach. lon. agh. krip alati. tuz. sél. marili. suola. sol. sare. súl. sare. só. sil. halen. zout. salann. druska. salz. so. sale. sel. sal. salt.

CONTENTS

salt

water

clings to my

wrists.

it has been

my fragrance

since birth.

i am always writing

of you.

for you.

–– breath | my people

can we speak in flowers.

it will be easier for me to understand.

–– other language

the morning is younger than you.

but

you will always be more tender.

–– age

you broke the ocean in

half to be here.

only to meet nothing that wants you.

–– immigrant

cruel mothers are still mothers.

they make us wars.

they make us revolution.

they teach us the truth. early.

mothers are humans. who

sometimes give birth to their pain. instead of children.

–– hate

sometimes

there is more water

in a poem

than in the sea.

––––––––––––––––––––––––

three waves

wash their way

into my hand.

they are the water in this poem.

what

massacre

happens to my son

between

him

living within my skin.

drinking my cells.

my water.

my organs.

and

his soft psyche turning cruel.

does he not remember

he

is half woman.

–– from

the hard season

will

split you through.

do not worry.

you will bleed water.

do not worry.

this is grief.

your face will fall out and down your skin

and

there will be scorching.

but do not worry.

keep speaking the years from their hiding places.

keep coughing up smoke from all the deaths you have
died.

keep the rage tender.

because the soft season will come.

it will come.

loud.

ready.

gulping.

both hands in your chest.

up all night.

up all of the nights.

to drink all damage into love.

–– therapy

trust your work.

would

you still want to travel to

that

country

if

you could not take a camera with you.

–– a question of appropriation

flower work

is

not easy.

remaining

soft in fire

takes

time.

when your mother unbirths you

because

she smells swans in your skin

it feels like

she is

singing in salt.

and

her eyes carve you out of her body.

you

are a dream

undreamt.

and

this is a holocaust

that

winter birds

will

never know.

–– swans

black women breathe flowers, too.

just because

we are taught to grow them in the lining of our quiet (our
grandmothers secret)

does not mean

we do not swelter with wild tenderness.

we soft swim.

we petal.

we scent limbs.

love.

we just have been too long a garden for sharp and deadly
teeth.

so we

have

grown

ourselves

into

greenhouses.

–– greenhouses

i knew you

before

i met you.

i’ve known you my whole life.

–– nafsi

she asked

‘you are in love

what does love look like’

to which i replied

‘like everything i’ve ever lost

come back to me.’

when you are

here

everything

is

wild.

–– moon

are your eyes blushing ?

even the small poems mean something. they are often
whales in the bodies of tiny fish.

there

are

feelings.

you haven’t felt yet.

give them time.

they are almost here.

–– fresh

his back

was a hundred stories

he

wanted to tell me.

a hundred lives

he

wanted to live together.

–– muscle (how many hours i spent reading his skin)

i am such

a

sensitive summer thing.

when you are struggling

in your

writing (art).

it usually means

you

are hearing one thing.

but

writing (creating) another.

–– honest | risk

i found flaws

and

they were beautiful.

–– ugly

take the art.

slice it from their skin.

leave the color behind.

–– flower crowns and bob marley t-shirts

my heart is in my mind. i think this is why i am an artist.

i bleed

every month.

but

do not die.

how am i

not

magic.

–– the lie

i will crawl for white beauty.

eat my arms.

barter my legs (make my thighs into altars of grief).

for

skin that does not drink night.

hair that is not angry.

body that is not soil.

i place curses on my flesh

call them diets.

tell my ancestors

they are ugly.

howl at my nose until it bleeds.

run my heart across my teeth, repeatedly.

i am dying.

to be

beautiful.

but

beautiful.

is

something.

i

will never

be.

–– by the time we are seven

where

you are.

is not

who

you are.

–– circumstances

i am a child of three countries.

the water.

the heat.

the words.

lay down.

let me put your flowers on.

–– fall

both.

i want to stay.

i want to leave.

i am three oceans away from my soul.

–– lost

i lied.

i told you i was not afraid to love you. then i walked away.

and

loved you.

–– i have spent my whole life alone. loving you | when we choose fear

i am your friend.

a soul for your soul.

a place for your life.

home.

know this.

sun or water.

here

or

away.

we are a lighthouse.

we leave.

and

we stay.

–– lighthouse

she was the color of evening husk

and salt.

i wore my voice with her sometimes

my fragrance

others.

she was a beautiful place to bare my legs.

night my countries.

and

eat the hot winter.

–– thaw

if i write

what you may feel

but can not say.

it does not

make

me a poet.

it makes me a bridge.

and

i am humbled

and

i am grateful

to assist your heart in speaking.

–– grateful

expect sadness

like

you expect rain.

both

cleanse you.

–– natural

african american women are easy. inferior.

africans are dirty. jungle people.

african americans are lazy. indolent.

african people are too black. ugly.

african americans think they are better than us.

africans think they are better us.

–– listen to the sound of us | we are breaking our mothers heart | the ancestors weep at how much we look like the hate that came to eat us

sit in the ocean.

it is one of the best medicines

on the planet.

–– the water

if we must

both

be right.

we will

lose

each other.

–– exile

he was so beautiful

because

when he held her

he was not concerned with ‘being a man.’

‘being a man’

had nothing to do with this.

these flowers pouring from his chest.

–– weightless

we are never our own.

we must change this fact.

–– acceptance

i wake

to you everywhere.

yet

you are not here.

–– reach

my english is broken.

on purpose.

you

have to try harder to understand

me.

breaking this language

you so love

is my pleasure.

in your arrogance

you presume that i want your skinny language.

that my mouth is building a room for

it

in the back of my throat

it is not.

–– i have seven different words for love. you have only one. that makes a lot of sense.

i don’t pay attention to the

world ending.

it has ended for me

many times

and began again in the morning.

the idea of a second heart.

i want more ‘men’

with flowers falling from their skin.

more water in their eyes.

more tremble in their bodies.

more women in their hearts

than

on their hands.

more softness in their height.

more honesty in their voice.

more wonder.

more humility in their feet.

–– less

you tell me

‘burn yourself white, it will make me happy.’

my sadness

is sharpening itself against my teeth.

you are the color of soft coal.

and

just got back from visiting your mother in last nigeria
month.

you say ‘look baby, look, what i brought back for you.’
i move out.

.

lunch with your sister is slightly trembling.

you want to touch her opening cheek with your hurt.
she won’t really look at you.

it is better not to talk.

no words can put out the pale fire spreading across her
face.

.

you are sore from all of the white women in magazines.
coaxing you out of your skin.

their fragrance is all over your friends

at school.

you can smell it.

the heat of whiteness on their necks.

‘maybe,’

as your hands.

brush pain and relief into your face.

‘maybe, now’

you say,

‘the world will leave me alone.’

–– bleach

if your light falls out of your mouth

pick it up.

(and

put it back)

–– noor

you

will drown

if

you do not have boundaries.

they

are

not optional.

this structure

counts

on your inability

to

say

no.

mean no.

they take no

from

our

first breath.

go back

and

return it to your mouth.

your heart.

your light.

–– swim | women of color

you

see your face.

you

see a flaw.

how. if you are the only one who has this face.

–– the beauty construct

white people are not chinese.

because they are born/live in china.

white people are not indian.

because they are born/live in india.

white people are not african.

because they are born/live on a continent they murdered
their way into.

–– there is no such thing as a white african | colonial blood myths | a revisionist history

i am often broken into language.

whether i want to

speak or not.

i am simply the poet.

the

poem

is

the one

that

can change your life.

–– medium

is there a place

in the

community.

for

those who leave.

but

never leave (you).

–– ex

i am the line.

on both sides there are songs

in my name.

–– bi

the rain in this room

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