by Warsan Shire
You brought the war with you
unknowingly, perhaps, on your skin
in hurried suitcases
plumes of it in your hair
under your nails
maybe it was
in your blood.
You came sometimes with whole families,
sometimes with nothing, not even your shadow
landed on new soil as a thick accented apparition
stiff denim and desperate smile,
ready to fit in, work hard
forget the war
forget the blood.
The war sits in the corners of your living room
laughs with you at your tv shows
fills the gaps in all your conversations
sighs in the pauses of telephone calls
gives you excuses to leave situations,
meetings, people, countries, love;
the war lies between you and your partner in the bed
stands behind you at the bathroom sink
even the dentist jumped back from the wormhole
of your mouth. You suspect
it was probably the war he saw,
so much blood.
You know peace like someone who has survived
a long war,
take it one day at a time because everything
has the scent of a possible war;
you know how easily a war can start
one moment quiet, next blood.
War colors your voice, warms it even.
No inclination as to whether you were
the killer or the mourner.
No one asks. Perhaps you were both.
You haven’t kissed anyone for a while now.
To you, everything tastes like blood.