Grace Atkinson

Grace Atkinson

Love is a noun too

…me in the grounded
belly of this estate shielding
the glare from my eyes you become
a body of light faint like tomorrow

          – Gboyega Odubanjo, ‘Looking at You’

yeah I think I’d clocked it by then (about doing the things)
like how the poet took a pause after I told him that I didn’t understand
it could get this bad/ pinching clay to make tiny chess pieces/
(is it in The Mask with Jim Carrey where all the bullets that fire into his body are sucked up
and then spat back out again? right out of his body)
some days I could be shooting pain at a person and they say things like
can I make you something?
please tell me how I can help you/          stoop to slide themselves out
of their own hot skin          delicate museum preparator
to be tucked into a corner and me wheeled into view
that’s pretty cool but now
                                               I can’t stop thinking about what you’ve taught me
about the small noise that comes when someone hooks
a forearm into the dip of me          tip of the nose to a shoulder
they close both eyes and become like a kid
drifting in the soft glow of their favourite TV show/
about that squeeze the poet gave me after he took a pause
when I said I didn’t understand it could get this bad
(he actually hoisted himself up onto the bar no? downed a cocktail
and the orange flowed out of each hole          an ornate Parisian fountain)

and even though I refused to meet you still you came
to explain how love is a thing that sits under it all
like that tree network people read about          acres of fungus now glowing/
the sound of my neighbour’s new trampoline/
the silver of the Birch which fades towards the trunk          like some godly painter
needed to run suddenly          dropped her duties
because who cares about the work anyway
when you could have the East London sun/          them
stood gold-faced on a balcony

GRACE ATKINSON is an award-winning poet from East London. Her poems have appeared in Stand, The Rialto, Poetry Salzburg Review, The North, Dazed Magazine, amongst others. She was long-listed for the Out-Spoken Prize in 2023.