Melanie Branton

Personal Best

Melanie Branton

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I set myself goals, then move the goal posts up and up.
Nine days without sugar. A month without crisps. A year without wine.
Halve portions, then quarter them, then round down, cut out.
Need to walk more. Two hours every day, if possible?
Four hours? Eight hours? Until I walk myself away,
scuff myself out, a pair of high street shoes not worth reheeling.

I hammer meals into the ground like fenceposts
spaced wide apart, thin and regular, something I can hang
a chain link on to mark off my space. I’ve gauged it,
made pencil marks along the ground, notches
to show me where to sink the holes. The holes are in my armpits
at the bases of my thumbs, beneath my collarbone.
They are the foundations that stop me falling over,

as I weigh myself morning and night. Eight stone!
Then seven!  Then six!  I need to tidy that number up now,
round myself down to five. They call what I have a “disorder”,
but I’ve never been more ordered in my life, make ‘To Do’ lists:
dig up the blackberry roots, deep clean the kitchen,
fill binbag, after binbag, after binbag. Closing my mind down,
enjoying only the rhythm of my muscles stretching,
distracts me from hunger, burns off more calories. Sleep

is for lazy, fat people. I get up at seven, then six, then five,
walk for two hours before breakfast, burn the porridge off
before I eat it. I want to wear a tape measure all the time,
like the Ryvita lady. The needle on the bathroom scales is
Hughie Green’s clapometer. I hear wild applause
as it unhinges from its base, flagellates itself to the left,
magnetised. I tick myself off the ‘To Do’ List. Cross myself out.

Melanie Branton

Melanie Branton is a spoken word artist from North Somerset. Her published collections are Can You See Where I’m Coming From? (Burning Eye, 2018) and My Cloth-Eared Heart (Oversteps, 2017) and she has recently been published in The Honest Ulsterman and Ink, Sweat & Tears. She is currently in the early stages of recovery from anorexia nervosa.

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