Skip to main content Close up of Pgisrn… Gprins… Spring, a painting by Kate Phoenix.

The Morning

It is a serious thing

just to be alive

on this fresh morning

in this broken world

Mary Oliver

I am not a morning person. They say that some people are born that way, and some people are not. I am a perpetual night owl. My mind sparks and buzzes, as the sun falls out of the sky.

I wake each morning with my head in the clouds. These clouds extend their tendrils of soporific vapour down from the sky. They keep me prisoner. They whisper dreams. There is always a faint melancholy, like a long ago grief, hazy and partially eclipsed by time. I ask my husband a thousand times if he’s ok, and breathe in the answer that everything is, indeed, ok. I’ve discovered it takes a little living each day, to lift a feeling like that.

Kate Phoenix stretching hands up

As an adolescent, I didn’t experience an overwhelming need for sleep. Often I was the first up, even in the midst of winter, eating breakfast with my back resting against the radiator, as warmth slowly bled into the cold, ribbed metal. I wish I had bottled some of that readiness. These days, it feels like wrenching myself from the womb. I roll over and immediately fall asleep again in my husband’s arms, only to stir, as he rises to put the coffee on the stove.

It’s not like I sleep all morning. I can even function as a semi-organised human adult. I drink coffee, I have breakfast, some mornings I even stretch, or run, or stand on my head. I pull the bed together. And yet, the stupor remains, like a dark raincloud, straining to break above my head. Whilst I dream of being up at dawn, and delving straight into a painting, in reality it’s often nearer midday before I feel my energy levels rising enough to be able to think clearly, and work to a standard I can make my peace with. Anything I do before is soaked in frustration.

I'm making small alterations, in an effort to change. Not to be virtuous, but because I don’t want to spend the prime part of the day feeling like a dead weight. This morning, I woke unintentionally just after dawn, and was surprised by the clarity I felt. Feet on the cool slate bathroom floor, the glorious stink of summer, just outside the open window. There’s a quiet joy in being the first up, awake and alone, with just the screeches of gulls in the early summer sky for company. It’s like breaking the calm of a lake with a skimming stone, or making the first footprints in fresh snow. The day is all mine for that sweet, solitary hour, unadulterated, high on espresso and possibility.

Overhead shot of two people picking cups of black coffee up from a table.
Birds flying in the sky.
A fireplace with light streaming in through blinds.