When I said ‘I want you’, what I meant was this:
I want early mornings that bleed into hazy afternoons where time doesn’t exist. I want sandwiches on the grass in my lunch break. I want Saturdays and supermarkets and incredulity that I buy my mango already chopped. I want late nights and hotel bars with tumblers of Old Fashioned, hot in our throats. I want breakfast in Paris, or breakfast on a Sunday or arguments about not fucking eating breakfast. I want to slow dance, with wine thick in our veins. I want pillow talk. I want the truth. I want you to tell me all of the things you think I don’t want to know. I want to laugh at bad movies and to read aloud to you. I want to fall in love with your words but still correct your grammar. I want in-jokes and your attempts at an English accent. I want to try the food you ordered, because you always make the better choice. I want to learn to speak Italian and how to cook pasta with you. I want bank holiday Mondays. And Cinco de Mayos – I want a diary full of anniversaries of the first moments we share. I want to wake up, realising we fell asleep holding hands again. I want one dessert and two forks, although one will do. I want to know what you want before you know. I want you to know me that way too. I want your words and your trust and your silence. I want to explore with you; to get lost with you. I want to protect you. I want love without limits that blurs the boundaries of our very souls; one that moves us through time. I want your body on mine; to know you with an intimacy we can hardly conceive. I want to be all the things you need. I want ‘everyday’. I want every day. I want family. I want a place to belong. I want to be the one you come home to. I want you to hear what I really say, when fear stifles my words. I want you to see my walls are to protect myself, not to keep you out. I want you to help me take them down, brick-by-brick. I want our love to be as necessary yet instinctive as breathing.
I want you. What part of that wasn’t I clear about?
You squander my time like it’s nothing;
an extraneous entity, to consume as you please.
Yet here you are again, come with hands held out,
looking to get you s’more.
But baby, I’ve no more for you.
For any of you.
No energy for empty connections;
no words in my vernacular
for one more meaningless exchange.
I’ve not one more minute to spend
giving a fuck that I’m wondering
why I even give a fuck.
In honour of International Women’s Day, a re-post of a poem I wrote a while ago. Here’s to every strong, independent, talented, compassionate woman I’ve ever had the fortune to know. Especially my daughter, who continues to teach me how to be a woman.
I see how it really is.
It’s not simply the size of my waist,
or the curve of my breasts
that don’t measure up to your idea
Your judgement goes far deeper than the skin you
taught me to hate.
You picked away at me,
pointing out all of the ways I was not enough,
until I believed you.
But my insecurity, you said, made me
even more unattractive.
It’s not befitting of a lady to be strong;
those provocative opinions and that wilful independence
would never bring me love.
At least that’s what you told me;
and there was nothing pretty about my vulgar mouth.
But you failed to silence me by
making ‘beautiful’ my most valuable
yet unattainable commodity;
a way you could dismiss me
when I wasn’t what you thought I should be.
Ignore what I say.
Reduce me to the sum of the skin I’m in.
Let your jeers and taunts
drown out my voice.
Laugh at me. Dismiss me. Insult me. Put me in your box.
But know that I will never be shamed into submission.
Because I’ll never be as concerned as you are,
with how I look.
No, I’m not beautiful.
What ever made you imagine I aim to be?
I’m not beautiful,
I am so much more than that.
You’ll never know my worth.
It’s in the places you’re not looking.
Yesterday I was everything;
Empress of all I surveyed.
The strength to
raise armies –
I was immortal.
I am nothing –
the warrior in me
a husk of a woman –
a tormented soul
unable to raise even her head
Nor conquer the grief in
There’s no fight left in me,
I would gladly surrender
for the taste of just
one moment of
‘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
your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay
no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
and even then you carried the anthem under
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.
you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough
go home blacks
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off
or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
or the insults are easier
than your child body
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
your survival is more important
no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
I dont know what I’ve become
but I know that anywhere
is safer than here’
– Warsan Shire