Yusra Warsama

Does she dream of dying

Yusra Warsama

Enslaving chain  Does she dream of dying by Yusra Warsama Click image for a larger view

The Royal Albert Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter
Accession number: 26/1934

What happened last night?

Do the folds of her clothes hold moments of last night’s air,
When she wakes, will she release those pockets of air and with it memories,
Will she smile a secret smile coz no one else knows except her and maybe another 
Like a secret ginnel, a passage that can only be known to someone who belongs to that place- peaceful travellers are always welcome to see memories  but students and tourists that form-fake-like-formica can get right off,
Only those who know the silent language of conferencing birds can hold her secrets sacred,
Bad vibes would only form cyphers on her shoulders - holding her down in rhythmical regret,
For now she sleeps- no shame, no joy, no guilt, no love - nothing can be formed till she wakes and stands casting shadows against the picture of her life,

She sleeps and slumber slips her sliding serenely into the centre of my mind,
Singling out thoughts of sin and burning sage,

She sleeps and each observer rests a story somewhere on  her body with their eyes - her body was never hers to own,
She sleeps and still she, she, she never belongs fully to her self,
Maybe she should have slept in night shadow and darkness toes tucked away from moonlight
Maybe that’s why some women can’t sleep past dawn,
They have to keep their sprits moving, coz if they settle too deeply, their body is snatched away in small piece by curious gazes,
 Till only dust is left of a woman who could have once existed….

Last night…. did someone peel food for themselves as she peeled off clothes?
Did she exchange herself for something of someone's soul?
Was a piece of flesh to be offered to save her body as a whole? 
Was it food she wanted….. having to wade through craven empty sighs and cold holds to get it?
To eat
Did the food fill her belly? Or is she scooped out, only a broken frame of herself holding skin and face and housing organs with only thing expanding being the air and space of nothing inside her,
Now and then she breaks off a bit of herself for hungry peeling mouths,
Now she sleeps deeply - maybe someone should tell her not to wake,
That the world is ready and if she isn’t it might just gobble her up whole- 
Sleep sleep sleep

If her clothes were draped over the bed or folded, could they have been like my mothers?
Could this be her?
Could this be a version of my mother,
A betrayed version,
The one I wanted her to be……someone Who sleeps deeply as if angels hold her, while other angels fight her demons pushing them far away from her, so far away she would never know how legions of spirits lived and died by the flutter her eye lash,

Could she be a version of my mother that this immigrant child could dream of?
Because I bet she doesn’t get spat on in the street,
People who are humiliated live in the fracture lines between the second hand and the hour during the day,
They live in the quite frantic air - they… don’t.. sleep like that,
 I don’t know how to navigate
Does she look like a woman who spews desert poetry as easy as asking for a cup of tea?
My sleep hurts
My sleeping is thirsty 

Do you think she dreams as deeply as those in Yarl's Wood,
Are their little drummer men in ear banging as they sing ‘the promise land is in the hereafter?"
Do little men in her ear grip drum sticks tightly with futile smiles -knowing that injustice can’t be soothed with music like the newborn with the breast,

Does this mothers terrain of her body feel used, the match box opened from last night might offer pity?
Last night maybe she dreamed.
Maybe she dreamed of Icarus,

..She could never refuse to fly in her dreams
She’s a woman sleeping,

Different viewers play movie reels on to her skin - Flash flash there’s a political coup in the pools of her collar bone,

It’s all foreign men saying foreign things in English that land in my foreign ears  - forgive the ignorance 
Pardon the mistake 
Maybe she sleeps coz apology has exhausted her?

Has she lived forever and then slept her way through everything?
Did she ever sing Oasis and learn all the moves to a spice girls song,
Was she ever awake?
She may dream of yellow, of sunflowers that reflect off her yellow morning walls, 
I hope she dreams of this or sweet things coz bliss doesn’t know how to live truly in the waking world
So beautiful to belong to the people of the land sleeping, - no journeying for survival 
Wonder if she ever sees the waking truths African women  - Arewelo might ululate morning calls in mind - burn frankincense and myrrh to clear the jinn,
But she can’t dream like an African woman does though African women are taught to dream like her….Good morning