By Warsan Shire

He smokes until he sees something
moving in the smoke, remembers
Joy like blindness: swimming at Jazeera
Beach, gorging on belonging, barwaaqo,

iftiin. He remembers riding through Suuqa Bakaaraha
on a motorbike, held onto by women with hair
trailing behind them like black smoke.

It’s raining in London again, Hassan
Aden Samatar sings from a small, sullen
cassette player in the corner of the room,
tonight, no one knows you.

Cidlada ka atkow, Abti—be stronger than your loneliness
Uncle, steam rises from qaxwo bitter with tears, carefully
rolling tobacco the same color as his hands.
He sings along. Alone this time, alone every time.

Dahabshiil Sends Blessings

She calls the dead, long-distance,
from a booth inside an Internet café,
coin-sized burns on both her wrists,
unable to imagine a life unbound
from statelessness or a soul untethered
from the Home Office. Indignity sits
slack-jawed with an indefinite leave
to remain, awaiting papers far into
the afterlife. Still, the promises
to send money.

Bless the Real Housewife

Blessed be those who sit and wait
so hooyo sits, waiting for him to die.
Calcifying her one human body, staying
for the sake of the kids, then staying
for the sake of staying, enduring,
abstaining, waiting for the angel of death.

She explains how much harder it is to leave
the second marriage, that she doesn’t want to
raise children the way she had to raise us,
and What would people say?

I ask What if you die while you’re waiting?

In a recurring dream,
the one where she’s driving alone at dawn
along a dirt road, passing by grazing camels,
her braid coming loose in the breeze, the sun
lifting its skirt, a peaceful Somalia in her rearview.
She thinks of this, and laughs. E

From the book BLESS THE DAUGHTER RAISED BY A VOICE IN HER HEAD by Warsan Shire. Copyright © 2022 by Warsan Shire. Published by Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC. Warsan Shire is the author of two other books, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth and Her Blue Body.