what they did yesterday afternoon
by warsan shire
they set my aunts house on fire
i cried the way women on tv do
folding at the middle
like a five pound note.
i called the boy who use to love me
tried to ‘okay’ my voice
i said hello
he said warsan, what’s wrong, what’s happened?
i’ve been praying,
and these are what my prayers look like:
i come from two countries
one is thirsty
the other is on fire
both need water.
later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
where does it hurt?
♦ ♦ ♦
Warsan Shire’s “what they did yesterday afternoon” was first published as a part of ‘Riot Pieces,’ a collaborative project by writers and other artists in response to the devastating and deadly social unrest that occurred in England from August 6 to 8, 2011.
Did you know that August 2011 was a time of devastating and deadly social unrest in England?
Because I didn’t.
Or if I once did, I have since forgotten.
November 12, 2015: Terrorists attack in Beirut. Many are killed, many are wounded, and countless more are devastated. A nation is in mourning.
November 13, 2015: Terrorists attack in Paris. Many are killed, many are wounded, and countless more are devastated. A nation is in mourning.
November 14, 2015: I read the last two stanza’s of Warsan Shire’s poem “what they did yesterday afternoon” circulating on social media. I don’t know what poem they are from or why they were written, yet still they bring me comfort.
It is good to find words that can speak for us, when we are in mourning. Continue reading “these are what prayers look like”