“The Last Time” by Jason Allen-Paisant

Sunday and we’re at church

You’re wearing that cotton dress

I’ve seen

in my earliest memory

the fuchsia one with the

bulbous flowers


There’s dried food on it

& I doubt you’re aware

& I say nothing


You’re wearing your yard slippers

Likewise, I say nothing

Think of the breaking of the shell

we call



Over the year to come

fresh crevices will reshape

the landscape of your eyes

Mommy will watch them


I’ll be away

in Oxford

making life


Right now your mind

settles in the church


Thirty years ago you and I

were already here

This is what I know –

like flowing water

no beginning or end


You enter the past

a fragile whisper



Jason Allen-Paisant is a Jamaican-born, UK-based poet. He graduated from the University of Oxford in 2015 with a DPhil in Medieval and Modern Languages and joined the University of Leeds in 2016 as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow and now serves as the Director of the Institute for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies. His debut poetry collection, Thinking with Treeswas published in June 2021 by Carcanet Press and named by The Irish Times as one of the Best Poetry Books of 2021.


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