Read salt. Online

Authors: nayyirah waheed

salt. (4 page)

the moment

you

want it to.

–– time

i touched her in the middle of her heart.

i never saw her again.

–– scar

you

keep putting your hands

on my mind.

it is the same thing as my body.

–– hands

leaving.

doesn’t mean that

you’ve left.

–– linger

my

mother

was

my first country.

the first place i ever lived.

–– lands

eat stars.

–– how to heal the native wounds | fire work

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

eat water.

–– how to heal the hot wounds | salt work

for you, i am sweeping words against each other.

–– quilts

go.

enjoy.

leave.

it was all about you, anyway.

–– tourist

i do not want to be liked.

i want to be myself.

–– fiction

your

skin

is infamous

for making me late to work.

–– you know i ain’t got time for that laugh and those eyes.

you ain’t right.

i am a quiet singer.

i do not feel

i need a name or a movement

to legitimize the defense of myself.

i am a woman of color.

my bones have been

bought and sold every morning.

so, now i carry a machete in my

mouth.

–– ivory

i loved you

because

it was easier

than

loving myself.

–– runaway

as a child

there was either

books

or

pain.

i chose books.

–– how i became a writer

some words build houses in your throat. and they live
there. content and on fire.

you say

‘you are such a ‘good writer’ for a woman of color.’

i hear

‘you have a better command of the english language than i
do.

my bitterness is wild salt in my blood

causing

my organs to crush and weep

and

this is the sound of my pain.’

–– translation | white noise

remember.

you were a writer

before

you ever

put

word to paper.

just because you were not writing

externally.

does not mean you were not writing

internally.

–– stories

illegitimate children

is such a foreign concept to me.

i was born from my mother

and

i am here.

that is

all the legitimacy i need.

–– the bastard construct

knowing your power

is what creates

humility.

not knowing your power

is what creates

insecurity.

–– ego

if we

wanted

to.

people of color

could

burn the world down.

for what

we

have experienced.

are experiencing.

but

we don’t.

–– how stunningly beautiful that our sacred respect for the
earth is deeper than our rage

if i have never seen you cry.

if you do not cry.

if you do not value or respect the needs of your water.

you and i can not form.

if you can not allow your own being

to wash over you.

how will mine ever make it past your skin.

–– available

beautiful

is the highest compliment

you

can pay a woman.

i watch women

dive.

to the ground.

eat it.

stand up.

and

smile.

–– shame

if you can not

hear

them.

ask the ancestors

to

speak louder.

they only whisper

so

as not to frighten you.

they know

they have been convinced.

coerced.

spooked.

from your skin.

–– communication

weather

is the

earth’s

emotions.

she is obviously

enraged.

–– sentient

there

are some wounds.

only

africa

can

heal.

–– in us

a lie

is

simply a lie.

it draws its strength from belief.

stop believing

in

what hurts you.

–– power

your words walk down my back.

this is how

you leave me.

–– vertebrae

will you always be this pain in me.

will you always hurt.

you must

put

healing on the list.

the grocery list.

the to do list.

the night list.

because

you are teaching

your

baby

the very same chemistry

that

took your eyes

and

heart when you were four.

–– the list

you

are

your

own

standard of

beauty.

–– mirror work

make sure

they have fallen in love

with

your spirit.

first.

your body.

second.

–– the fragrance of your laughter

i am often broken into language.

whether i want to

speak or not.

i fell apart many times.

so.

what does that say about me

besides

i live through

wars.

my ancestors made sure

i was born

the color of their

eyes.

–– sight

have you ever

heard

a black woman weep over her skinmurdered child.

it is the splitting of atoms.

it is billions

of

voices screaming their children’s names

through

her death wail.

–– trayvon martin ii

do you think

calling me ‘angry’

is an insult.

every time you call me ‘angry’

i hear your voice salt with guilt

and

i laugh.

look how easy it is to reveal you.

–– anger is a healthy and natural response to oppression

it’s not about making you uncomfortable.

it’s about making me comfortable.

–– reparations

i think one

of the most pathological

things i have ever seen

is

stabbing

someone

and

then telling them that

their

pain and anger

over being stabbed

is

making you sad.

–– white guilt

you can not

remain

a

war

between

what you want to say (who you really are)

and

what you should say (who you pretend to be)

you mouth was not designed to eat itself.

–– split

chemistry

is

you touching my arm

and

it

setting fire to my mind.

–– flood

you ask

your heart

why it is always hurting.

it says

‘this is the only thing you will allow me to say to you.

the only feeling you are willing to feel.’

weep.

into your shirt.

you’re allowed.

–– clouds

he said

‘my absence is strong and warm.

it will hold

you.

it will teach you how to miss.

how to be without.

and

how to survive anyway.’

–– how my father raised me

the stars

will begin falling

from your mouth

the moment.

you forgive yourself.

for the silence

you

did not create.

–– fault

‘i love myself.’

the

quietest.

simplest.

most

powerful.

revolution.

ever.

–– ism

i want you

to

drink the sea inside of me.

–– summer juice

i dropped my pride

in the gulf of your mouth.

and

i do not know how to swim.

–– island

i look for you

in the middle of the light.

in the west of the day.

in the warm memory of the water.

she is poem country.

everywhere

a

language.

writing.

is the way

your

being speaks to you.

–– conversations

you are digging into my heart

with both of your hands.

who. what. are you looking for.

i am right here.

–– trust

i wake up in a poem.

i knew.

read.

sonia sanchez.

nikki giovanni.

audre lorde.

before

i ever even

heard the name

charles bukowski.

finally,

a proper education.

–– the order

hire her.

for your children.

for your kitchen.

for your clothes.

for your house.

give her a room

with an unmade twin bed and a dresser. an alarm clock.
set her hours

past her own children’s bed time.

shorten her name.

change her name.

talk through her.

call her a part of the family. without ever asking if she
wants you this close to her skin.

just

do not be surprised the day

you accidently

look in her eyes

and

her spirit pulls your heart out through your mouth.

–– the maid

who you are.

is not what you are doing.

what you are doing

is

being

someone else.

–– architecture

her love.

was the only medicine.

the only.

medicine.

that ever worked. and this is why.

she left.

she

wanted yours to work.

too.

–– healer

the thing you are most

afraid to write.

write that.

–– advice to young writers

when i am lost

touch the back of my water

and

i will return.

the wounds have changed me.

i am so soft with scars

my skin

breathes and beats stars.

i have lost millions and millions

of words to fear.

tell me that is not violence.

–– the deaths

if she is warm

let me

know her in the morning.

we write from the body.

it remembers everything.

–– bone and soil

your

hands pouring sky

all over my

bed

what language is that.

your mother may

never return from war.

but

you will still see her everyday.

–– two

fall apart.

please

just, fall apart.

open your mouth.

and

hurt. hurt the size of everything it is.

–– dam

she was flower salt in my heart, and she hurt beautifully.

for me

there is no other.

because there is no default.

everyone

is

a variation of life.

–– the human being | the human gender | the human sex

it was

i

who held you

when

you

wanted

someone else.

–– treason

i saw love

there

i just did not pick it up.

–– mistake

express your sadness.

inside

it has only one place to go.

–– tissue

you are trailing long dust

across

our heart.

there is an easier way to leave.

–– over

you.

the weight.

rose cinnamon.

dark honey.

the clothes you wear on your mouth.

the warm smoke in your legs.

a quiet quilt.

a mason jar (for moon).

an easy laugh brushed with oil.

time.

the light left over.

some music in your hair.

you.

–– things you bring to the ocean at night

why is the moon

full.

is it carrying the whole world

too.

–– daughter

you are a sea of light.

open your eyes.

see yourself.

i am terrified

then i remember

i am

giving birth to a continent.

i remember

that

i am giving birth

to

a continent over and over.

–– the process | writing a book | the ancestors were my midwives | ashé.

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