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A poem for Free Word

  • By Warsan Shire
  • 12th November 2013
We announced last night that Warsan Shire, the Young Poet Laureate for London, will be starting a residency at Free Word in spring next year. To celebrate the announcement and the relaunch of Free Word, she wrote us a poem about the transformative power of words.

Backwards

For Saaid Shire

 

The poem can start with him walking backwards into a room.

He takes off his jacket and sits down for the rest of his life,

that’s how we bring Dad back.

I can make the blood run back up my nose, ants rushing into a hole.

We grow into smaller bodies, my breasts disappear,

your cheeks soften, teeth sink back into gums.

I can make us loved, just say the word.

Give them stumps for hands if even once they touched us without consent,

I can write the poem and make it disappear.

Step Dad spits liquor back into glass,

Mum’s body rolls back up the stairs, the bone pops back into place,

maybe she keeps the baby.

Maybe we’re okay kid?

I’ll rewrite this whole life and this time there’ll be so much love,

you won’t be able to see beyond it.

 

You won’t be able to see beyond it,

I’ll rewrite this whole life and this time there’ll be so much love.

Maybe we’re okay kid,

maybe she keeps the baby.

Mum’s body rolls back up the stairs, the bone pops back into place,

Step Dad spits liquor back into glass.

I can write the poem and make it disappear,

give them stumps for hands if even once they touched us without consent,

I can make us loved, just say the word.

Your cheeks soften, teeth sink back into gums

we grow into smaller bodies, my breasts disappear.

I can make the blood run back up my nose, ants rushing into a hole,

that’s how we bring Dad back.

He takes off his jacket and sits down for the rest of his life.

The poem can start with him walking backwards into a room.

 

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