Warsan Shire's teaching my mother how to give birth (extract)

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mouthmark series

Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth

literary pointillism on a funked-out canvas


Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth mouthmark series (No. 10) Printed and Bound in the United Kingdom Published by the mouthmark series, 2011 the pamphlet series of flipped eye publishing All Rights Reserved First Edition Copyright © Warsan Shire 2011

Cover Design by Effi Ibok Series Design © flipped eye publishing, 2009 ISBN-10: 1-905233-29-9 ISBN-13: 978-1-905233-29-8


Mother, loosen my tongue or adorn me with a lighter burden. — Audre Lorde

Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth

Warsan Shire


mouthmark poetry is a kind of literary pointillism applied on a jazz-blues-

blood-sex-rock-and-rolled canvas with sweat, tears and spittle as primary colours; if you don’t get it you’re not listening...


Contents

What Your Mother Told You After Your Father Left..... 7 Your Mother’s First Kiss..................................................... 8 Things We Had Lost in the Summer................................ 9 Maymuun’s Mouth............................................................ 10 Grandfather’s Hands..........................................................11 Bone...................................................................................... 12 Snow..................................................................................... 13 Birds..................................................................................... 14 Beauty.................................................................................. 15 The Kitchen......................................................................... 16 Fire........................................................................................ 17 When We Last Saw Your Father ......................................20 You Were Conceived ........................................................ 21 Trying to Swim With God.................................................22 Questions for Miriam........................................................23 Conversations About Home ............................................24 Old Spice.............................................................................28 My Foreign Wife is Dying and Does Not Want To Be Touched..........................................................................30 Ugly ..................................................................................... 31 Tea With Our Grandmothers............................................33 In Love and In War............................................................34


I have my mother’s mouth and my father’s eyes; on my face they are still together.


What Your Mother Told You After Your Father Left

I did not beg him to stay because I was begging God that he would not leave.

7 7


In Love and In War

To my daughter I will say, ‘when the men come, set yourself on fire’.

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