A British Poet of my Blood

I am Ethiopian by blood.

Somalia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Sudan, a portion of Egypt, a portion of Kenya are in the same cultural grouping as Ethiopia.  Yemen overlaps us.

Every time I return to Addis Ababa, there would be a roll call as to why this Ethiopian woman or that living abroad in exile is not married. 

Where are the children?  Am I to be denied grandchildren?


Everyone knows why in their secret hearts. 

We have been in wars to one extent or another for generations.  The body is on a war footing always.

And the day before yesterday there was yet another attempted coup d’état in Ethiopia. 



Warsan Shire, British born Somali in Kenya, 1988.  Has lived in England since she was one.


What We Have

Our men do not belong to us. Even my own father, left one afternoon, is not mine. My brother is in prison, is not mine. My uncles, they go back home and they are shot in the head, are not mine. My cousins, stabbed in the street for being too—or not—enough, are not mine.


Then the men we try to love, say we carry too much loss, wear too much black, are too heavy to be around, much too sad to love. Then they leave and we mourn them too. Is that what we’re here for? To sit at kitchen tables, counting on our fingers the ones who died, those who left and the others who were taken by the police, or by drugs, or by illness or by other women. It makes no sense. Look at your skin, her mouth, these lips, those eyes, my God, listen to that laugh. The only darkness we should allow into our lives is the night, and even then, we have the moon.












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