In the lead up to Issue VI’s submission deadline, our Editor is sharing six poems which she believes speak to the themes of courage and the symbolic serpent, as well as being linked to Li Ji’s heroism. In preparing your submission (whether it be poetry, prose, photography or art), feel free to be inspired by these pieces.
The Ugly Daughter by Warsan Shire
Your daughter is ugly.
She knows loss intimately,
carries whole cities in her belly.
As a child, relatives wouldn’t hold her.
She was splintered wood and sea water.
She reminded them of the war.
On her fifteenth birthday you taught her
how to tie her hair like rope
and smoke it over burning frankincense.
You made her gargle rosewater
and while she coughed, said
macaanto girls like you shouldn’t smell
of lonely or empty.
You are her mother.
Why did you not warn her,
hold her like a rotting boat
and tell her that men will not love her
if she is covered in continents,
if her teeth are small colonies,
if her stomach is an island
if her thighs are borders?
What man wants to lie down
and watch the world burn
in his bedroom?
Your daughter’s face is a small riot,
her hands are a civil war,
a refugee camp behind each ear,
a body littered with ugly things.
doesn’t she wear
the world well?
The deadline for Issue VI is May 15th. Read more about Issue VI here.