Read salt. Online

Authors: nayyirah waheed

salt. (3 page)

you will not remember your name.

–– oshún

there is a phantom language in my mouth.

a tongue beneath my tongue.

will i ever

remember what

i sound

like.

will i ever come home.

–– african american i

i lost a whole continent.

a whole continent from my memory.

unlike all other hyphenated americans

my hyphen is made of blood. feces. bone.

when africa says hello

my mouth is a heartbreak

because i have nothing in my tongue

to answer her.

i do not know how to say hello to my mother.

–– african american ii

can you be a daughter.

if you have no

mother language.

–– african american iii

how beautiful

that you can lay down a map

and with a straight finger

show me who you are.

you say

'show me, show me who you are.'

i tell my soft tight finger

'do not be afraid'

i slow and lightly

lay it on africa (as if i do not belong to her)

and

then

you ask me

‘where.’

–– african american iiii

we are afraid.

ashamed.

of

africa.

–– the secret we never say | african american iiiii

i like

the heat

in certain words.

the warm travel.

the low sun.

you do not have to be a fire

for

every mountain blocking you.

you could be a water

and

soft river your way to freedom

too.

–– options

sometimes the night wakes in the

middle of me

and i can do nothing

but

become the moon.

i want to see

brown and black folks

photographed

by

brown and black eyes.

–– eyes

to not be safe on the earth.

simply

because

of the color of your skin.

how does a being survive this.

–– trayvon martin

if

a man

can

only show vulnerability

for

what is between my legs.

can

only

be

a

heart

during

sex.

if an orgasm

is

the only way

he

can

weep.

what is his life

but

a cage.

–– prison

listen to my poems.

but

do not look for me.

look for you.

–– you

i am not yours.

i did not make the long hard journey through and across
the spirit world

to

be a man’s ocean.

my body is not yours.

my mouth is not yours.

my water is not yours.

nothing i am belongs to you.

unless i decide

to

open my hand

and

give it to you.

–– birthmarks

you will find your way.

it is

in the

same place

as

your love.

–– seek

when

you tell your self

‘you can have your energy back.’

after years

of

giving

it

to white people.

and

their

requirements for acceptance. for supple colonization.
digesting

their beliefs.

thoughts.

opinions.

of

you.

when you remove them from your nucleus.

your being is then

allowed

to

focus

its power

on

turning your life.

into.

your soul’s work.

you become yours.

again.

–– decolonization | center

to

call me

black.

is

one of the most beautiful.

incredible.

compliments

you could ever give me.

–– insult

your skin

smells

like light.

i think you are

the

moon.

i broke myself

dreaming of you last night.

the

water and flowers

have been

working on me all morning.

–– seamstresses

if you show

someone the sun in your bones

and they reject you

you must remember.

they hurt themselves this very same way.

–– unable

‘no’

might make them angry

but

it will make you free.

–– if no one has ever told you, your freedom is more important than their anger

there is a tender thing

i am made of.

i have always felt before i breathe.

and what if i write of you.

is that more love than you can handle.

be a lion.

i will still be water.

where are my legs. where are my legs. i had to give them to my babies so they could swim back home to me. back home to me. back home to me. i rubbed the sun all in their hair. every single birth. i rubbed sun in their hair. so they remember who they look like. who they look like. who they look like. me. to lose love that way. to have to watch them be opened like that. all the way down to their mouths. time will never know my skin. wild with everything and nothing but them. i sang into their blood. each and every one of them have my voices in their bones. they will come home. i know they will come home. the whole sky had to hold me when the world came to eat my children. that fear. that pain. that fear. that pain. that fear. that pain. that fear. that pain. that fear. that pain. that fear. that pain. that fear. that pain. that fear. that pain. that fear. that pain. that fear. that pain. that fear. that pain. that fear. that pain. that fear. that pain. that fear. that pain. that fear. that pain. wake up my loves. into me. i will come to you every night. every single night. because you do not understand your nose. or your feet. or the boats in your eyes. you do not remember me. and you suffer. you suffer. you suffer. you suffer. you suffer. you suffer. you suffer. you suffer. swept with banzo. swept with banzo. swept with banzo. you suffer. you hate yourself. you hate me. this is death for a mother. how many deaths. i am your mother. i am your mother. i am your mother. i am your mother. i am your mother. i am your mother. i am your mother. i am your mother. i am your mother. i am your mother. remember me. remember me. remember me. my hands in your heart. i will not let you go. i will find you. worlds away from me. i am your beauty. i am you. no matter how much bleach you must drink. every night i will come into you and repair. relove. undo everything that is not me. i memorized you. i will walk over all waters to come and get you. bring you back to me. they do not know. they do not know. they do not know. they do not know. they do not
know. they do not know. they do not know. they do not know. they do not know. they do not know. they do not know. they do not know. they do not know. they do not know. they do not know. they do not know i put salt in each one of your skin. each and every one of your skins. they do not know that salt preserves not only fruit. but children. you will remember. you will remember. you will remember. you will remember. you will remember. you will remember. you will remember. you will remember. you will remember. you see. my love. you see how your body is beginning to slow glow with stars. you are remembering. you are mine. you have never been anything else.

–– africa's lament

these are not tears.

this is the sea.

–– tides

never

trust anyone

who says

they do not see color.

this means

to them

you are invisible.

–– is

when i am afraid to speak

is when i speak.

that is when it is most important.

–– the freedom in fear

what i never

learned

from my mother

was that

just because someone desires you.

does

not mean they value you.

desire is the kind of thing that

eats you

and

leaves you starving.

–– the color of low self esteem

being in love with my people

does

not mean i hate others.

how ridiculous is that.

–– self

i am relieved.

when

i see the feminine presence

in a man’s eyes.

it means

he is a peace

i do not

have

to

bring to him.

–– ease

apologize to your body.

maybe

that’s where the healing begins.

–– starting

the most

gorgeous thing

on

a human being.

vulnerability.

–– want

put

some salt in that honey.

warm it up.

heal.

–– stove

a black woman

can write of

loneliness.

or

love

or softness.

or the moon.

you may try valiantly

to cripple her

but she will still grow flowers in her flesh.

–– a genocide of flowers

you blush like an ocean in love.

wild with blueness.

–– yemanja

i have always been the woman of my dreams.

open

your eyes.

even if

the

sun wants them.

–– see

audre wrote

of

the

‘secret poetry.’

we all know

this

poetry.

lining our arms.

rusting our teeth.

walking through our hair.

feeding

our wild stomach.

soothing

our

mouth tears.

folding itself into waists.

between legs.

always

climbing up our sadness

into

our necks

to

sleep.

–– the secret poetry | audre

there is peaceful.

there is wild.

i am both at the same time.

–– sum

all that was

taken

from me

is still here.

–– root | immortal

this

hard vulnerability.

–– black

even if you are a small forest surviving off of moon alone.

your light is extraordinary.

–– reminder

a woman

is

not a girl.

and

a girl

is

not a woman.

–– misogyny | synonyms

i lost my hands

in her waist

and

that is the softest detail.

you

are

my favorite kind.

nothing

that i can

name.

some people

when they hear

your story.

contract.

others

upon hearing

your story.

expand.

and

this is how

you

know.

if you are softer

than before

they came.

you

have been loved.

consider this place.

consider this place

as safe.

when you take off your throat.

lay your voice in the middle of the bed.

open your back up to me.

–– slow

if someone

does not want me

it is not the end of the world

but

if i do not want me

the world is nothing but endings.

something as simple as

the

sun

asking me

out.

–– the perfect date

my silence

is wet and hot

and

drinking my mouth to death.

you are not a mistake. you are too many exquisite details to be a mistake.

  1. rub honey into the night’s back.
  2. make sure the moon is fed.
  3. bathe the ocean.
  4. warm sing the trees.

–– tend

the warmest light is your body.

it is being honest

about

my pain

that makes me invincible

–– yield

when summer comes

the air runs hot with fever

and

so do i.

–– alchemy

you took off your mouth

gave it to him

and

now

you secretly

weep fire

in the bathroom

before making love.

how much burning

will be

enough.

–– dowry

your soul is inflamed.

good.

pay attention.

find water.

come inside.

–– map

i am a dream still dreaming.

i do not expect my child’s respect.

just because i have given birth to their life

does not mean they owe me.

anything.

what i want most is to look into my child’s eyes

and

see

that i have given birth

to

a

heart.

have

honored.

held and fed.

someone’s heart.

from the moment we first met.

and they love for this.

–– first

there have been so many times

i have seen a man wanting to weep

but

instead

beat his heart until it was unconscious.

–– masculine

you are a story.

do not become a word.

one word.

because you want to be loved.

love does not ask you to be nothing

for

something.

–– name

is t u„„,m b l e in this lan guage.

i fa ll down in this lang ua GE.

i am p & a & i & n = in this lang | uage.

my (mouth). heart. arms are losing muscle + in this l a n g u age.
my body does not $ recognize the taste $ of this -language-.

i long _____________________________________________

in this LANGUAGE.

i am not/ {myself} in this l anguage."

–– e.n.g.l.i.s.h./ for all of us who are held captive

healing

begins

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