Dressing Up by Melanie Branton

We do not speak now.

I tried a few times,
asking the kinds of questions
I supposed that I might ask
if I were a fond, but tweedy aunt
with a bun and a pince-nez,
the kind that sends a stonewashed fiver
on birthdays
in a cheap and too-young card
with a picture of a boy
playing football,

but you clanked around stiffly
like Mr Benn
in politeness that was
a rusted suit of armour
and would not put your visor up,
so I gave up.

We did not speak much then, either,
but that silence was a velvet cloak
we wrapped ourselves in,
fancying it made us invisible,
while thrilling at the naked brush of its nap.

Of course, it did not make us invisible
and those around us must have been
laughing behind their hands
at us,
prancing about in our silence cloak,
decked out like a carnival king and queen,
miming our love to each other
in Morris gestures,
thinking they couldn’t see us
because we had our
heavily embroidered silence on.

I dare not approach you in civvies
and I do not know
what I would be to you
or you to me
if we were not
dressing up.

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Melanie Branton is the 2015 Bristol regional Hammer and Tongue slam champion. She has also had poems published in a variety of online and print journals, including Prole, Ink, Sweat & Tears and The Interpreter’s House.

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