Poem: Crude Conversations With Boys Who Fake Laughter Often by Warsan Shire

He says ‘I don’t get it, why are you still a virgin at 24?’

He says ‘I don’t believe you, I’ve seen you walk, virgins don’t walk like that’

He says, ‘That ain’t natural, people are supposed to fuck.’

He asks ‘Why though? No offence though.’

I ask ‘When was your first time?’

He says ‘I was 12’

He says ‘I know what you’re thinking, that’s too young.’

I look at his knuckles, he has two good hands.

He says ‘She was older than me.’

I ask ‘How old?’

And he says ‘It’s better that the girl is older, that’s how I learnt all things I know’

He licks his lips.

I ask again ‘How old?’

He says ‘I could use one finger to make you sob’

I think of my brother in prison and I can’t remember his face.

I ask again ‘How old?’

He says ‘Boys become men in the laps of women, you know?’

I think of my mothers faced lined with her bad choices in men.

He says ‘If you were mine you wouldn’t get away with this shit, I’d eat you for hours, I’d gut you like fruit.’

I think of my cousins circumcision, how she feels like a mermaid, not human from the waist down.

He says ‘I’d look after you, you know?’

I laugh, I ask for the last time ‘How old?’

He says ‘34.’

He says ‘She was beautiful though and I know what you’re thinking but it’s not like that, I’m a man, I’m a man, I’m a man. No one could ever hurt me’.

tree-stump-palace

I’m often asked by parents what advice can I give them to help get kids interested in science? And I have only one bit of advice. Get out of their way. Kids are born curious. Period. I don’t care about your economic background. I don’t care what town you’re born in, what city, what country. If you’re a child, you are curious about your environment. You’re overturning rocks. You’re plucking leaves off of trees and petals off of flowers, looking inside, and you’re doing things that create disorder in the lives of the adults around you.

And so then so what do adults do? They say, “Don’t pluck the petals off the flowers. I just spent money on that. Don’t play with the egg. It might break. Don’t….” Everything is a don’t. We spend the first year teaching them to walk and talk and the rest of their lives telling them to shut up and sit down.

So you get out of their way. And you know what you do? You put things in their midst that help them explore. Help ‘em explore. Why don’t you get a pair of binoculars, just leave it there one day? Watch ‘em pick it up. And watch ‘em look around. They’ll do all kinds of things with it.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson 

Everything is a don’t. We spend the first year teaching them to walk and talk and the rest of their lives telling them to shut up and sit down.”