If you love this gorgeous poem by the Somali-American writer Ladan Osman as much as I do, find yourself a copy of her hair-raising 2014 poetry collection, The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony, and be ready for your head–and your heart–to be captivated with every turn of the page.
“For the Woman Whose Love Is a Bird of Passage”
I am so poor before you. A grackle
whose colors are as good as a peacock’s,
sometimes better in the full face of sun.
The love poem I meant to say
is lost. Instead, I swear an oath.
I curse like someone speaking
in a foreign language. Instead of leave
I say scourge. The proper word a chick’s voice
still in its egg, a beak in a small crack.
Your blood is hot and flowing,
and the hinges of your heart’s valves
allow traffic in all your heart’s rooms.
Is that why the little kisses are not enough?
In your sigh there is the sound of water pouring
into a hot, empty kettle.
Let us have the same dream tonight, I say
and your smile is red glass in dim light.
I dream my front tooth is a crumbling pillar
and you are the entire city of sin, in collapse.
Instead of leave, you say raze. You are so poor
So let us paint the ocean instead.
We dip the brushes in a canvas that takes them
out of our hands. Now you are the grackle’s tail
calling for eyes from the side of a road,
and I am the best room in your heart.