Tempest – by Melanie Branton


I’m doing Act 3 Scene 3 with my A2 group
when lightning strikes my yardarm.
I’m run aground, marooned
in the middle of the Mediterranean, lost

in a fantastic green world, where the problems
of the real one are dissolved
in misrule, suspended on the cusp
between tragedy and comedy, romance and farce:

Shakespeare’s incantations have conjured
another lesson, twenty years ago,
when you asked me about this scene.
I can see you now, Ariel-golden,

real as the scholastic-grade welded metal legs
of the stackable classroom furniture,
although my students are unaware of you, cocky
under your invisibility cloak, a Jacobean stage convention,

and that’s dramatic irony.
I’m diving for pearls full fathom five,
stroked and made much of,
unexpectedly presented with a lush banquet

but when I try to eat,
the spread vanishes
like a scribble of drywipe marker
beneath the board rubber’s unforgiving sweep.

Turns out I am the clown, the gull, delusional overreacher,
easily tricked by Machiavellian plots, fairground freakshows,
new-fangled stage mechanisms, urchins,
and between us now the distance from Tunis to Naples,
Bermuda to Southwark, 1611 to 2017.



Melanie Branton is a spoken word artist and poet from North Somerset. In the summer of 2017, she performed at WOMAD, Bristol Harbour Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe. Her debut pamphlet, My Cloth-Eared Heart, is published by Oversteps Books.

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