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April 24, 2016

15 Truths about Women & Love from the Poet who Helped Me (& Beyoncé) Find our Voice.

YouTube screenshot

Within the first five minutes of Beyoncé’s visual album, Lemonade, all I could think was, “I wish I wrote this.”

Every word felt deep and rich, but jagged. It hurt to listen, but I couldn’t step away. The way she approached love and hate, marriage and betrayal, gender and race, left me overwhelmed—and often in tears.

I wasn’t sure if Beyoncé had written all the stunning spoken word poetry she included in the film, but I knew it felt familiar, both in a deeply emotional way, and also in the “Where have I heard this before?” way.

Praise the internet, because before this stunning work of art ended, I learned that the genius behind many of Bey’s emotional soliloquies was Somali—British poet Warsan Shire.

I recognized the name and then realized that her words had been finding me randomly over the past year—usually when I needed them the most. But it was this quote—found during a particularly desperate time in my life—that left me silently sobbing under the covers and aching with hope:

“Perhaps, the problem is not the intensity of your love, but the quality of the people you are loving.”

The wake-up call I needed in 19 simple words.

While I never thought I’d utter the words “spiritual experience” and “Beyoncé” in the same sentence, I found myself so affected by Lemonade, that I spent hours last night drowning in the beautiful words of Warsan Shire.

Below are 15 of her most powerful offerings about women, love and getting through it all alive:

1. “you can’t make homes out of human beings
someone should have already told you that
and if he wants to leave
then let him leave
you are terrifying
and strange and beautiful
something not everyone knows how to love.”

2. “My alone feels so good, I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude.”

3. “how far have you walked for men who’ve never held your feet in their laps?
how often have you bartered with bone, only to sell yourself short?
why do you find the unavailable so alluring?
where did it begin? what went wrong? and who made you feel so worthless?”

4. “make love like you have no secrets
like you’ve never been left
never been hurt
like the world
don’t owe you a single wretched thing.”

5. “Your daughter’s face is a small riot,
her hands are a civil war,
a refugee camp behind each ear,
a body littered with ugly things

but God,
doesn’t she wear
the world well.”

6. “You think I’ll be the dark sky so you can be the star? I’ll swallow you whole.”

7. “His eyes were the same colour as the sea in a postcard someone sends you when they love you, but not enough to stay.”

8. “Not everyone is okay with living like an open wound. But the thing about open wounds is that, well, you aren’t ignoring it. You’re healing; the fresh air can get to it. It’s honest. You aren’t hiding who you are. You aren’t rotting. People can give you advice on how to heal without scarring badly. But on the other hand there are some people who’ll feel uncomfortable around you. Some will even point and laugh. But we all have wounds.”

9. “Document the moments you feel most in love with yourself—what you’re wearing, who you’re around, what you’re doing. Recreate and repeat.”

10. “I am a lover without a lover. I am lovely and lonely and I belong deeply to myself.”

11. “Don’t assume, ask. Be kind. Tell the truth. Don’t say anything you can’t stand behind fully. Have integrity. Tell people how you feel.”

12. “The ego hurts you like this: you become obsessed with the one person who does not love you, blind to the rest who do.”

13. “i think of lovers as trees, growing to and
from one another searching for the same light”

14. “i don’t know what brings broken people together
maybe damage seeks out damage
the way stains on a mattress halo into one another
the way stains on a mattress bleed into each other.”

15. “The sun is perfect and you woke this morning. You have enough language in your mouth to be understood. You have a name, and someone wants to call it. Five fingers on your hand and someone wants to hold it. If we just start there, every beautiful thing that has and will ever exist is possible. If we start there, everything, for a moment, is right in the world.”

Watch the trailer for Lemonade:

Warsan Shire – “For Women Who Are Difficult To Love” from MovingOn on Vimeo.

Author: Nicole Cameron

Image: YouTube screenshot; Ryan McGuire/gratisography

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