Read salt. Online

Authors: nayyirah waheed

salt. (2 page)

is low and thick

and

undressing my heart

through the air.

–– intimacy

stay soft. it looks beautiful on you.

i could just simply say

i want you

and

leave my mouth in your hand.

we lay

in our country.

love makes us a homeland.

–– bed

i am a brutally soft woman.

with

the water bowl balancing

on my thighs

i soak the flowers

until

they become words.

then i write.

–– the ritual

she washes the sea

on her knees.

–– salt

i am a black wave

in

a white sea.

always seen

and

unseen.

–– the difference

what will your eyes do with me

when they are done.

will they lay me

in the tender flesh behind

the sun.

fold me into

your memory’s back.

keep me

a

running

water down your arms.

–– where

stay is a sensitive word.

we wear

who stayed

and

who left

in our skin forever.

–– sojourn

what

we hide

and do not

say

turns into

another mouth

that

only we know.

–– mouths

as a woman

i know the difference between

appreciation

and

teeth.

what really hurts

is that

as a girl

i had to know the same thing.

–– survivor

i am a silk field of vulnerability.

be careful

of all the things

you lose

in someone’s mouth

when you love them.

if you deserve

honey

mine will flow from my arms to yours

no effort, no asking.

but, if there is none

and

you feel wind instead.

know

that my spirit already

senses that

when you smell sweetness

you

begin harvesting blades in your hands.

–– kindness is a form of intelligence

what can i do

when the night comes

and

i break into stars.

–– osmosis

do not

put

your hand

in the mouth of loneliness.

its teeth are soft

but it will scar you for life.

–– do not be seduced by the lonely ones

you travel

to lush looted countries

parts of earth laying on their sides

barely breathing

hot with rust, infection, and tourist anemia.

you and your camera arrive.

start tearing at bodies

with

your lust.

it’s harmless.

appreciating culture.

sharing.

honoring clothing.

the way certain skin exists.

oh

you’ve sold those photographs

the ones you were so excited about.

the one you ‘caught’ with children being children.

the one with the woman you thought so ‘beautiful.’

you and your camera

eat

as much as one stomach and three sd cards can hold.

get on a plane

and

leave with the belief

that

your eyes are

clean.

honest.

artistic.

–– photography | the gaze

the night was busy making the moon

so

i gathered my quilt

and softly

told my heart

we’d come back

tomorrow.

my whole life

i have

ate my tongue.

ate my tongue.

ate my tongue.

i am so full of my tongue

you would think speaking is easy.

but it is not.

–– for we who keep our lives in our mouths

africa does not need your tears.

or

your prayers.

or

your money.

or

your t-shirts.

or

your telethons.

or

your hands ever so lovingly placed

on her buttocks.

your mouth at her breasts.

your fists in her eyes.

she wants you to stop pissing in her face

and

calling it water.

she wants you to leave.

she is the mother.

she does not belong to you.

you do not belong to her.

and

you hate this.

but

one day

you will reap.

what

you have sown.

–– aid

men give birth, too.

to children.

to longings.

to dreams.

that they must hide.

their stomachs.

their uteruses.

their hungers.

their softness.

their cravings for touch.

to be

a

man.

is the thing

that closes their light.

and

eats their eyes.

–– him

there is you and you.

this is a relationship.

this is the most important relationship.

–– home

cry wild.

you have probably never cried wild.

but, you know what doors

feel like.

you have

an intimacy with doors

that is killing you.

–– break

decolonization

requires

acknowledging.

that your

needs and desires

should

never

come at the expense of another’s

life energy.

it is being honest

that

you have been spoiled

by a machine

that

is not feeding you freedom

but

feeding

you

the milk of pain.

–– the release

why can we never

talk

about the blood.

the blood of our ancestors.

the blood of our history.

the blood between our legs.

–– blood

i will tell you, my daughter

of your worth

not your beauty

everyday. (your beauty is a given. every being is born beautiful)

knowing your worth

can save your life.

raising you on beauty alone

you will be starved.

you will be raw.

you will be weak.

an easy stomach.

always in need of someone telling you how beautiful you are.

–– emotional nutrition

good.

girl.

–– rope

your heart is the softest place on earth. take care of it.

the

diaspora is absolutely breathtaking.

and

the diaspora is in stunning pain.

we

are

a great many things. all at once.

–– myriad | disconnect

getting yourself together.

what about undoing yourself.

–– the fix

thick compassion.

as thick as the throats of our fathers

when they have already left

but leave their words behind.

.

our fathers write us. all over us. their handwriting. we can not ignore. whether they have spelled our eyes. our mouths. or the need in our brows. we can not help but be their poem.

.

how could they think they are not important. we are houses eaten by rivers because we do not know their smell. when we are looking all the way through ourselves, we are looking for them. how dare they remove themselves from our sight. we have a right to be able to recognize our father if he is passing us on the street.

.

what kind of heart break is he. what night was it that he decided. what did the moon look like. was he hungry. so hungry, that he would give me up. give us up. how do they give us up so easily. so willingly. they take out their voice. break us from it. and eat mist and guilt until we are but dreams.

unharm someone

by

telling the truth you could not face

when you

struck instead of tended.

–– put the fire out (unburn)

the beauty of my people

is

so

thick and intricate.

i spend days

trying

to undo my eyes

so

i can sleep.

–– lace

if

the ocean

can calm itself

so can you.

we

are both

salt water

mixed

with

air.

–– meditation

racism is a translucent skin.

it defends itself

by

attacking itself.

–– reverse racism

in our own ways

we all break.

it is okay

to hold your heart outside of your body

for

days.

months.

years.

at a time.

–– heal

you.

not wanting me.

was

the beginning of me

wanting myself.

thank you.

–– the hurt

eyes that commit.

that is what I am looking for.

warm philadelphia night. blue bruise across the sky. groceries in hand. i dreamt last night of honey. my grandmother called me into a dream like she used to call me into a room. she gave me honey. honey for you. you, who will not talk. who will not swallow the news. who will not let anything near your throat. but, i can find you. i can find you even when you are there, in morocco. even when you have flown through your eyes but not your body. when you are holding me, and i am practicing being limp with restraint, because i am really holding you. when you refuse to change back from water and want to fill our whole house with the sebou. i know, my sweet. we have spoke of her the entire length of our love. she was your eyes the day i met you. remember, you and i. on the floor, you teaching me of how she eats. three fingers on the right hand only. i have worn her clothes. ate her language from your mouth. and i knew, i knew when the phone calls came, and the tv started shrieking, and our house turned into weather, i knew this would break some of our bones. but my love, it is drinking us down to our teeth. i can not see you anymore. your smile. your legs. your heat. is lonely. the honey, grandmother said, is for your blood. it is to bring you back. but, she said, i must first ask, ‘if’ you want to come back. and though, ‘if’ is a razor to my vein, i will ask. so, i am not asking ‘when’ you will come back. because, i can take it, the swimming in your body, the lostness, your growing appetite for doors. i am not asking when. ‘when,’ is not something you ask someone when the bodies of their aunt. uncle. friends. first love. can not be found. i am asking‚ ‘if.’ because i am here. dangling from your left ring finger, wringing oceans out of my skin, and coming home every night. i know your family is tattoo and it is their screaming voices you hear when I say i love you. i know, she is the love you are, the land you are made of, and she is hemorrhaging. war is eating her heart. but, you are losing yours too, my love.

–– what the war has done to us

white people try to take

blackness.

pour it out

rub it into their skin

and

wear us

like they know what we about.

but

honey

it’s only ever gon’ be a suntan.

you

ain’t neva gon’ be black.

–– tan | stealing from the sun

stop speaking.

use your eyes, instead.

–– the eye fire

be insecure

in peace.

allow yourself

lowness.

know that it is

only

a

country

on

the way to who you are.

–– traveling

if.

we.

are

with child.

and

you believe that fatherhood

begins

when my body pours a baby into your hands.

not before.

you do not deserve this child.

you are a coward.

–– you are a father the moment you enter me

do

not ever

be

afraid to tell me

who you are.

i am going to find

out

eventually.

–– blunt

you ask

to touch my hair

or worse

touch it without asking.

this is not innocence.

this is not ignorance.

this is not curiosity.

this is the very racist and subhuman belief

that

you have a right to me.

–– i will break your hand. do not ever touch me | every time you touch my hair my ancestors place a curse on you

your soul stained my shoulders.

my whole life smells like you.

this

will take time.

undoing you from my blood.

–– the work

our ache

for

africa.

is

the heart

behind

our heart.

the pain with no name.

–– amnesia

i am a woman

and

a poem.

–– visceral

when you allow

that man.

to walk through your children.

plant his feet.

in

their veins.

hold their voices.

necks.

bodies.

inside his violence.

you are no longer a mother.

when you give him the key to that door. because you need

to be loved by someone.

you have seasoned them for the wolf.

burned their childhood into a fantasy.

it’s going to take a third of their lives.

all the courage.

from

their cells to their hair.

to learn the alchemetic formula

that

turns that kind of betrayal.

a demothering.

soft.

liveable.

–– before you get that key made

the worst

thing that ever happened

to

the world

was

the white man coming across gun powder.

–– the end of the world | the beginning of white supremacy

soon

the moon will come from my lips

and

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