"The Unbearable Weight of Staying" is a poem written by Warsan Shire, an acclaimed poet and social activist. This poem appears in her book Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, which was published during 2011 by Flipped Eye. In pages saturated with stories of womanhood, Shire gives readers a vivid look into the mind of a cultured feminist. She provides compelling depictions of unsung courage in the face of patriarchal adversity.
This poem describes the shaky foundation of love between Shire and her unnamed lover. She seems to speak on how the love was too good to be true, leaving her to internalize the loss of something special she never had. Yet she realizes her worth in the end and declares her need for someone willing to stay.
Shire unfortunately witnessed a similar experience between her biological parents, which is highlighted in her poem "Backwards." Her father and mother fell out of love, which left Shire in a tough place. This poem encourages women to make room for a lover who knows how to stay.