• Akosua Biraa

Her body is one long sigh







my father was a drunk

he married my mother

hands were slow but urgent


i know a shame

that shrouds, totally engulfs

why did you not warn her?


my mother’s remains

were never buried

scent of a woman completely on fire


i have my mother’s mouth

and my father’s eyes on my face

i know she smiles at him


he lives alone now

frail, a living memory

i did not ask him to stay


to my daughter i will say

‘when the men come,

set yourself on fire’







This piece is composed solely out of phrases taken randomly from Warsan Shire’s (2011) “teaching my mother how to give birth”. This is another Amazon Germany purchase of mine. I bought it in 2017—based on a friend’s spot-on recommendation.


Shire’s work is powerful stuff! She takes us on a roller coaster ride through great senses of desperation, defiance, despair, disgust, hope, horror, outrage, disgust, rebellion, shock and every other intense emotion imaginable.




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