This beautiful poetry collection uses lovely, small details that are super specific. This is not too often seen in poetry so this level of detail is more common to prose. She also uses a strange use of punctuation that has the potential to be disruptive, but, the combination of the over-punctuation and the absence of capital letters, recreates a sense of continuity that punctuation usually interrupts.
I feel inspired to write a new poem using the lines I so loved from this collection to make something new. All of Waheed’s words will remain in quotes so as to tell the difference from my additions and her original contributions. I have gleaned knowledge and understanding from her words and look forward to reviewing all of her poetry collections as she brings them into this world.
“you smell like love.”
rotten in its center, sweet on its skin
“i wanted the wanting.”
for I am a flood in your hands
“there is no healthier drug than creativity.”
so I “let the poems have you.”
“the words. they are in love with you.”
in a way I cannot be. in a way I cannot be.
for you are not freedom.
“when words take off their clothes. for me. so i can write. them exactly. as they are.”
I see you. as you are.
“you are a different grief.”
and I throw myself upon your suffering
I’ve always wanted the wanting.
“all the women. in me. are tired.”
of being. poetry. for you.
these words. they cannot. love you.
“i will always be a translation.”
you will never understand
“the way a poem bleaches everything the color of itself.”
you cannot. be. the color. of. beautiful.
you are not
“the kind of love that loves a writer when they cannot write.”
“rub me down with pure ocean.
i walk into a poem and walk out someone else.”
i will always be a translation
i am mine. before i am ever your poetry.
“i want to keep our body above water. you want to make us a fish.”
sang. and threw ourselves against the walls. against each other. and hid. and caved. and opened. and tossed ourselves into work. and danced. and shrank. and closed. and ate. and bled. and held on. and ignored. and accepted. and lied. and laughed. and created. and undid. and drank. and drugged. and loved something. someone. somewhere. ourselves. fiercer. and hated. something. someone. somewhere. ourselves. fiercer. and swam. and rejected. and yearned. and distanced. and clawed. and touched. and some of us will disown you. because you hurt too much. some of us will have to say your name for a year. before we are able to sleep.
i must. grieve. so that you can be free to feel something else.
you are not.
poetry. I am not.
Find nayyirah waheed.