Amerah Saleh, I Am Not From Here

Birmingham 2 Aden

(from Amerah's forthcoming Verve Poetry Press collection I Am Not From Here)

I often wondered what you would do if I left, 

Would you take a minute of silence to mourn my absence? 

More like disregard the empty part of your belly and carry on.

You are made of so much beauty, 

You hide it behind walls I am not tall enough to climb

I want to explore your body, 

Some parts of you have been forbidden for me

You break me

Each time you make a decision for us 

I break

I fall out of love with you

 

There is a battle inside my being, 

Of loving 

Of hating

And of despising who you are becoming 

You are so still in your change, 

You nonchalantly brush off what they’re trying to make you

I am angry, ashamedly 

I am trying to un-love you

 

When I don’t want to think of you

I often take my mind to her

Think of her Ottoman Empire like body

The smell of her perfume reeking on my skin

How my heart can feel broken and whole at exactly the same time

She never has an empty belly or lets anyone leave with an empty stomach

She will greet a newcomer into her home with salt and crack an egg to remove bad spirits

She has loved too hard and is spending her life apologising for it

 

My tongue is stained off her, 

My tears taste like her water

She is broken now

And I am stealing the bricks from my mind to fix her 

I want to fix her with each fibre of my being 

I want her to be fixed

I know I may never see her again

I may never be able to witness her grow again,

How my mother witnessed her mountains rebuild themselves from sand


 

Her image has become vague 

I google her to remind myself what she looks like

My god, she’s beautiful. 

She’s so beautiful. 

This poem is taken from Amerah Saleh's new collection, I Am Not From Here.

Amerah has been writing and performing for 10 years across spoken word and theatre. She has taken her poetry all around the world to share messages with young people. She is a Board Member at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Co-founder of Verve Poetry Press and a Producer at Free Radical as part of The Beatfreeks Collective.

I Am Not From Here is a collection that explores the complexities of being Birmingham born but of Yemeni descent and culture; of being Muslim in a city of mixed faiths and in a country of little faith; of spending time in Yemen only to find that as a result you are refused entry to other countries and have forgotten how to live in yours; of losing loved ones too young (and when are we ever old enough for that?); of being split between the language and words of two tongues, and often finding that neither has the words you need; of facing hatred for acts that were none of your doing, and inner turmoil as your mind and body seek the solace and comfort of belonging to enable you to turn and face the world.

Pre-order I Am Not From Here.