We, Made of Bone
These days, I refuse to let you see me
the way I see myself.
I wake up in the morning not knowing
whether I will make it through the day;
reminding myself of the small, small things
I’ve forgotten to marvel in;
these trees, blood-free and bone-dry
have come to rescue me more than once,
but my saving often requires hiding
yet they stand so tall, so slim and gluttonous
refusing to contain me; even baobab trees
will split open at my command, and
carve out fleshless wombs to welcome me.
I must fall out of love of the world
without me in it, but my loves have
long gone, and left me in a foreign land
where once I was made of bone,
now water, now nothing.
Copyright © 2019 by Mahtem Shifferaw. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 6, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
“How do you continue on living an ordinary life when the rest of the world is on fire? How do we, as humans, continue to marvel in the smallness of things, when there are more urgent things that need our attention, our activism, our passion? These are the things that inspired the poem into being.”