'A Gift' by Andrew McMillan​

Celebrating this year's Manchester Pride the latest entry in our occasional Poetry Corner is by Andrew McMillan...


by Andrew McMillan

for the ones I never touched   for the ones
who wanted to watch films   who wanted
to talk   who wanted silence and said I
talked too much      for the one I saw
weeks after   laughing      for the one who served
me coffee and didn’t recognise my hands
for the optimistic ones who write

their names on toilet walls   the ones
I never called   for the ones I called
who didn’t answer   who left our love
suspended from the ceiling hooks
of that meatmarket city      for the ones
who left and settled down   the ones who wanted
knowledge   were curious   who gained something

from each encounter   used each other
who took what they needed      for everyone
they hurt   who felt burned out   the ones who
didn’t realise everyone was burning
the ones who never slept   who died nightly
the ones who said they’d kill for it   for all
of them   a gift      we were young   we only had our bodies


Andrew McMillan was born in South Yorkshire in 1988; his debut collection physical was the first ever poetry collection to win The Guardian First Book Award. The collection also won the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, a Somerset Maugham Award (2016), an Eric Gregory Award (2016) and a Northern Writers' award (2014).

His second collection, playtime, published by Jonathan Cape, is available to buy here.

He is senior lecturer at the Manchester Writing School at MMU and lives in Manchester.