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from “Offering”

By Shailja Patel

sing history
back onto itself, sing tearing
whole again, sing altered
tally sheets clean, blood
back into bodies, blades
back to the forge

sing women
unviolated, infernos
downward to soil, crops
greenly skyward, sing it all
back to the beginning

in a language
none of us
has ever heard

have you ever woken
in the night? Reached
for the body beside you
as if its living warmth
could teach your hands
a new language?

in the dark
it is your own bare skin
the holy innocence of belly
the fearless softness of breast
that whisper back to you


history is a million terrors
tides that have engulfed your country
you were never going to arrive
in time

it began before you
will not suck itself back
through the doorway
of your longing

and a doorway
is not a body
to wrap you
in the night

a body
is not a poem
to teach
the language you yearn for

Added: Monday, July 14, 2014  /  Used with permission.
Shailja Patel
Photo by: Jane Corbett

Shailja Patel  is called by CNN "the people-centered face of globalization." She connects the dots of global justice. An internationally acclaimed Kenyan poet, playwright, public intellectual and activist, her performances have received standing ovations on four continents. Her first book, Migritude, was an Amazon poetry bestseller and a Seattle Times Bestseller. Patel has appeared on the BBC, NPR, and Al-Jazeera and her work has been translated into fifteen languages. The African Women's Development Fund named Patel one of Fifty Inspirational African Feminists. She represented Kenya at the London Olympics Poetry Parnassus.

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