Poetry 114: For women who are difficult to love by Warsan Shire


you are a horse running alone
and he tries to tame you
compares you to an impossible highway
to a burning house
says you are blinding him
that he could never leave you
forget you
want anything but you
you dizzy him, you are unbearable
every woman before or after you
is doused in your name
you fill his mouth
his teeth ache with memory of taste
his body just a long shadow seeking yours
but you are always too intense
frightening in the way you want him
unashamed and sacrificial
he tells you that no man can live up to the one who
lives in your head
and you tried to change didn’t you?
closed your mouth more
tried to be softer
less volatile, less awake
but even when sleeping you could feel
him travelling away from you in his dreams
so what did you want to do, love
split his head open?
you can’t make homes out of human beings
someone should have already told you that
and if he wants to leave
then let him leave
you are terrifying
and strange and beautiful
something not everyone knows how to love.

Image courtesy of www.pixabay.com

About Barry Daniel

I live in the Lake District in the UK where I run a guesthouse with my partner Kate and my cat Manuel. I enjoy painting, hillwalking, reading, visiting and entertaining friends, T’ai Chi and playing the guitar. I’m engaged to a certain degree in the local community, as a volunteer with Samaritans and I’m a fairly active member of the local Green party. I’ve had a relatively intuitive sense of the Middle Way most of my adult life but it found a greater articulation and a practical direction through joining the society. It’s also been interesting and great fun engaging with other people with a similar outlook. My main contribution to the society is conducting the podcast interviews, something that gives me a lot of satisfaction and that I’ve learnt a lot from.

3 thoughts on “Poetry 114: For women who are difficult to love by Warsan Shire

  1. Wow! I was immediately drawn to this poem just by the title – and the poem did not disappoint. It expresses so well that scary dynamic of being drawn to something that excites in some way but also terrifies. I probably fit the category of “women who are difficult to love” and could very much relate to the description of the woman trying to tone down or soften whatever might be too intense and difficult to handle. And also I could relate to the sense of someone pulling away, being unable to manage their conflicting emotions. I am reminded of the advice from a zen teacher whose name I cannot recall at present. She was writing on the subject of zen and falling in love. The advice was, “When he comes, welcome. When he leaves, do not pursue.” I found this helpful in managing the push-pull dynamic of interbeing with someone who fluctuates between being intensely drawn to you and intensely scared of you, or perhaps of the intensity of their own feelings.
    And it is so true what the poem says: “you can’t make homes out of human beings”, but that doesn’t prevent us from trying! At least until painful experience teaches us to seek alternative sources of refuge :-)

    1. Great comment from which I have learned a lot about the complexities of relationships and the traps we can fall into, whatever our gender or the specifics of our encounters with each other. Thank you, Tam.

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