Skip to main content
Got a Tip?

Afeni Shakur: A Mother’s Love

It was an Instagram clip that Big Tigger posted in the wake of Afeni Shakur’s passing (May 2) that sparked an idea. Tigger was the then-host of BET’s hit hip-hop show, Rap City, interviewing 2Pac’s mother in 2000. Her wise words and still calm came through even in the short video he shared. She conveyed how Pac’s book, The Rose That Grew From Concrete, could inspire a young writer to try songwriting or other avenues of creative prose from his poetry. Ms. Shakur pressed how some of the other rappers on the program were also poets and how important the medium is for fertile minds.

Through that short minute, I was inspired to find a poem that would encompass her motherly love for the son she birthed who so impacted the world with his spirit… starting from poetry.

I sought out a huge inspiration on the poet stage, nayyirah waheed. Her recent collection of poems in the books salt. and nejma. are works of courage, light and bare bones truth. In honoring Tupac Shakur’s legacy and the life of the former Black Panther, educator, estate protector and phenomenal woman, Afeni Shakur, we have a poem specially crafted for her by waheed, which also serves as a poem for all mothers on this special Mother’s Day. —Datwon Thomas





mothering. is a poetry.

an articulate.
blinding. poetry.

when you pour him from your body.
that is a poetry.
when you wash. his. new body. in the kitchen sink.
that is a poetry.

when you calculate the distance from your house. and all the streets.

how long it will take him to arrive at his best friend’s home.

and return.


that is a strategic. poetry.
a navigation. the maverick’s poetry.
a poetry of architecture. careful craft.
a war captain’s. poetry.

you. have built a paradise.
he is a paradise.
sekyiwa is a paradise.
you are a paradise.

you. protect paradise.
protecting paradise. is a poetry.

when you begin to smell.
his destiny. in his sweat.
growing faster than his hands. his feet.
and the shape of him becomes more and more breathtaking each day. both of your hearts begin racing.

it is here.

who he.

has come for him.

he is larger than your house.
his wings are finished.
you stay up late for three month. sewing their undercoat.
reviewing the aerodynamics.
making sure they are slender enough. soft. sensitive enough. light enough. for flight.
warm enough. for the world. its winter.
metal enough. to counteract any flying shrapnel. anything. unmeant for his being.

and when he forgets.
and forgetting is easy. in a world with no memory.

he calls you up. (you are already awake. awaiting this call.)
you remind him of his name.
you sing his name. to him.

you sing. to him his name.

warmed. slowly. repeatedly.
speak to him in. the language.
the language only he and you understand.
the language only you and he can speak.

remind him.

‘tupac. you are my first poem.
a love poem.’

he remembers. he calms.

you tell him a joke. a joke. your friend told you yesterday. when the two of you were gardening.

you laugh with him. and the sound of your laughter. together.
new music.

and if he leaves. before you. (something he said softly. may happen. when the two of you first met.)

if he dies. with one wing.

you do not allow death.
you pick up his body.
cleanse it.
with the gold salt. you are saving. everydaynight. from weeping.

during mourning. create a new wing.

place him.
two winged. in the ground beneath the wild tree.
you do not allow death.

you know that the other life. is still alive.
you and he. are still poetry.

still. a love poem.

still. writing.

you. afeni. the poetry. the music. the genius. the force.
created the poetry. the music. the genius. the force.
that. created the poetry. the music. the genius. the force.


we will listen. forever.
we will listen to you. both. forever.

we know the other life. is still alive.
you and he. are still poetry.

still. a love poem.

still. writing.

sekyiwa. the paradise.

your beloved.
your stunning. daughter poem.


you. he. are there.

to be a mother. in two dimensions.


is a poetry.

we know the other life. is still alive.

mothering. is a poetry.

— afeni


nayyirah waheed is the author of two collections of poetry entitled ‘salt.’ and ‘nejma.’
for more information visit

Afeni Shakur: A Poem About A Mother's Love

READ MORE: Sybrina Fulton: Still Healing. Still Standing. Still Marching… Until Justice For All