"How to Bloom in Dark Places” by Warsan Shire | Facing History & Ourselves

"How to Bloom in Dark Places” by Warsan Shire

Poet Warsan Shire tells the story of a young Somali-born refugee in this poem from the film Brave Girl Rising.  
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At a Glance

reading copy


English — US


  • English & Language Arts
  • Social Studies
  • Global Migration & Immigration

This reading is used in the Teaching Idea Brave Girl Rising: A Refugee Story.

The film Brave Girl Rising tells the story of Nasro, a Somali-born girl living in a refugee camp in Kenya, through Warsan Shire’s poetry. The following is an excerpted version of the poem “How to Bloom in Dark Places” from the film’s script.

How many arms do I need to grow to

fight off what scares me?

How many legs to leave?

How many dreams until mother tells

me how to escape this place?

Mother has given me a message.

I must tell the girls, so they can

memorise it too.

If I ever forget, they will remind


I read to them the words as my mother said them.

We pledge allegiance to our bodies,

We pledge allegiance to fortifying our


We pledge allegiance to water,

to it’s dutiful scarcity,

we do not bow to thirst and the shadow it

casts over our lives.

We will be our own mothers,

We will be the big sisters we never had,

We will be the fathers we almost had

We will fortify our own walls,

We will protect the vulnerable,

We will protect ourselves,

so, we will protect each other. 1

© 2019 Girl Rising


  • 1 Warsan Shire, “How to Bloom in Dark Places” (excerpt), from Brave Girl Rising, produced by Girl Rising in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee, 2019.

How to Cite This Reading

Facing History & Ourselves, ""How to Bloom in Dark Places” by Warsan Shire," last updated March 1, 2019.

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