Up – a poem by Melanie Branton

Up 

I’ve turned the world upside down and stacked it 
on top of the morning, so I can sweep and mop 
under it, wipe away other people’s muddy footprints. My thoughts 
are clear when the roads are clear, occasional traffic moving at an affable pace. 

A blizzard of time has fallen in the night, and I’m the first one to walk on it. 
Tensing Norgay on the top of the world, I have conquered 
the new day, stuck my flag in it. My phone says 4.58, 
as I catch the door with my foot, so it clicks, it doesn’t bang. 

Early morning is eating porridge when everyone else 
is eating Frosties or Cheerios, porridge with blackberries, 
that tastes like pudding. I’m surrounded by a warm halo, like the Ready Brek kids. Steamed broccoli with brown rice, a new potato, still in its jacket. 

Early morning is a jug of freshly brewed, hot, black coffee, 
that smells of buttered toast and caramel, but only five calories a cup. 
It bones my corset, my push-up bra, bicycle pumps 
my paddling pool body, and makes my heart beat again. 

Dark? Yes, but it’s a different dark from evening dark: 
navy bluer. Just back from the dry cleaner, still in its polythene wrap 
on a wire coat hanger, a ticket safety-pinned to the inside lapel, 
smelling of pear drops and formaldehyde. The sky is wearing its school uniform, 

it’s polished its shoes and pinned the stars to its breast, a shiny prefect’s badge. 
It’s pulled its hair back from its face and fastened it 
with a velvet Alice band. It’s on its best behaviour, 
an ambassador for its school. It has perfect table manners. 

Early morning is a warm church on a cold night. The things that lurk 
in darkness can’t touch me here. There are candles burning 
and the smell of wax polish, brass eagles with heavy books on their backs, 
and a marble altar, a baptismal pool 

for total immersion, a voice crying in the wilderness, 
Prepare ye the way of the Lord! Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: 
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Cleansed on the inside, not on the outside. 
Outwardly unchanged, but inwardly made new. 

Early morning likes to surprise me with his sugar daddy gifts: 
a genuine fox fur! - with the fox still in it! – pops out of an alleyway, 
a champagne cork from a bottle, a showgirl from a cake. Ta-dah! And then 

                                                                                                                  the sun comes up!

An alchemist who crystallises the sky to amethyst, 
tiger’s eye quartz, lapis lazuli, aquamarine. 
The aloneness and the new light are a microscope, a spotlight, 

narrow my focus to the point, to the fine detail that is everything 
I would have missed, so I emerge from the darkness, grateful for people 
who grow roses in their gardens, strain their muscles 
to give flowers to strangers, because that’s what humans do

Melanie Branton is a spoken word artist and education support worker from Bristol. Her published collections are Can You See Where I’m Coming From? (Burning Eye, 2018) and My Cloth-Eared Heart (Oversteps, 2017).

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