Birds – by Warsan Shire
“Sofia used pigeon blood on her wedding night.
Next day, over the phone, she told me
how her husband smiled when he saw the sheets,
that he gathered them under his nose,
closed his eyes and dragged his tongue over the stain.
She mimicked his baritone, how he whispered
her name – Sofia,
pure, chaste, untouched.
We giggled over the static.
After he had praised her, she smiled, rubbed his head,
imagined his mother back home, parading
these siren sheets through the town,
waving at balconies, torso swollen with pride,
her arms fleshy wings bound to her body,
ignorant of flight.”
Warsan Shire is a Somali-British activist and poet, born in Kenya and raised in London. Constantly pushing the boundaries, Warsan’s poetry draws on her personal experiences to show the contradictions and absurdities found in racism, sexism and cultural assumptions. Despite writing the poetry for Beyonce’s album Lemonade, Warsan shies away from the limelight. Authenticity for her is key, saying “I either know, or I am every person I have written about, for or as.” When she’s not busy writing poetry she can be found campaigning against FGM and sexual violence.
There are so many incredible kick-ass women in the world, stepping up, speaking out and inspiring others with the work they do. Many who are visible, and many who are not. With this project we want to highlight grassroots female role models. So we want to hear from you! Who are the women in your life who makes you think, ‘yeah thats possible’! Women who have started businesses, projects, are fighting for a cause, are making their voices heard. Send us a photo and a small story celebrating the role model in your life to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will turn this into an illustrated piece!
This series is in collaboration with Nomadways
Written and Illustrated by Roshan de Stone