Dean Atta

Dean Atta

Fragments of Faye #3

The second week in 
hospital, you are so weak. 
They wash you in your bed 
but you beg to have a shower 
and they agree to use a hoist; 
you tell me about it with such glee. 
I try to remember you 
before your face was gaunt 
and your legs were swollen, 
before your stomach was a balloon, 
before the cancer in your womb 
spread. And I remember: 

you have come to visit 
us at university in Brighton, 
you stay with Tracey 
and the girls. I come by 
in the morning, ready for 
our day of activities. 
They tell me you’re still 
in the shower. You come down 
singing to yourself, 
you smile, ‘Sorry,’ you say,
with a not-sorry shrug, 
‘I just love a long shower.’ 

You smile so wide, your 
cheekbones so high, your 
skin slick with shea butter, 
your long locs so neat, 
tightly twisted at the roots, 
and now you are ready.

Some Things I Like 

After Lemn Sissay

I like when we get up at the first alarm.
I like when we don’t need an alarm, 
and get up whenever we feel like it, 
preferably after sex and conversation. 
I like spending time with other people 
and coming back to you with gossip. 
I like being on stage, in a classroom,
in a restaurant, cafe, library, cinema, 
theatre, bar, club, bookshop, yoga class. 
I like being away, I like planes and trains, 
especially when paid for by poetry. 
I like going places and strangers’ faces.
I like you. I like you. I like you. I like us.


we take a break 
from arguing 
to make two cups of tea

when we are running 
but too far apart to talk
there is still love here 

when we take a drive 
and listen to a podcast 

when we are hiking 
and I am struggling
and you seem impatient 

when I stop for water
the wind whistles in my ear
there is still love here.

DEAN ATTA’s debut poetry collection, I Am Nobody’s Nigger, was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize. His novel in verse, The Black Flamingo, won the 2020 Stonewall Book Award.