The House by Warsan Shire

i

Mother says there are locked rooms inside all women; kitchen of lust,
bedroom of grief, bathroom of apathy.
Sometimes the men – they come with keys,
and sometimes, the men – they come with hammers.

ii

Nin soo joog laga waayo, soo jiifso aa laga helaa,
I said Stop, I said No and he did not listen.

iii

Perhaps she has a plan, perhaps she takes him back to hers
only for him to wake up hours later in a bathtub full of ice,
with a dry mouth, looking down at his new, neat procedure.

iv

I point to my body and say Oh this old thing? No, I just slipped it on.

v

Are you going to eat that? I say to my mother, pointing to my father who is lying on the dining room table, his mouth stuffed with a red apple.

vi

The bigger my body is, the more locked rooms there are, the more men come with keys. Anwar didn’t push it all the way in, I still think about what he could have opened up inside of me. Basil came and hesitated at the door for three years. Johnny with the blue eyes came with a bag of tools he had used on other women: one hairpin, a bottle of bleach, a switchblade and a jar of Vaseline. Yusuf called out God’s name through the keyhole and no one answered. Some begged, some climbed the side of my body looking for a window, some said they were on their way and did not come.

vii

Show us on the doll where you were touched, they said.
I said I don’t look like a doll, I look like a house.
They said Show us on the house.

Like this: two fingers in the jam jar
Like this: an elbow in the bathwater
Like this: a hand in the drawer.

viii

I should tell you about my first love who found a trapdoor under my left breast nine years ago, fell in and hasn’t been seen since. Every
now and then I feel something crawling up my thigh. He should make himself known, I’d probably let him out. I hope he hasn’t
bumped in to the others, the missing boys from small towns, with pleasant mothers, who did bad things and got lost in the maze of
my hair. I treat them well enough, a slice of bread, if they’re lucky a piece of fruit. Except for Johnny with the blue eyes, who picked my locks and crawled in. Silly boy, chained to the basement of my fears, I play music to drown him out.

ix

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
No one.

x

At parties I point to my body and say This is where love comes to die. Welcome, come in, make yourself at home. Everyone laughs, they think I’m joking.

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