Bench Review

 NW1 2LW

by Alan Fielden

I arrive early like a scout;
To your house party, to our meeting, to the activity. I won’t knock. I walk around until the time is full.
By then I’m all stirred up so maybe I’ll go go.
There’s that saying, pessimists are early and optimists are late.
Isn’t London a bad lover? Her buses indifferent to my emotions.
Yes, they come when they want.
I was a premature birth.
A stranger from the internet and I were to drink at the Cheshire Cheese.
We’d met on a friend’s Facebook wall and now there I am, stood, early.
I have a terrible relationship with the feeling of being observed unknowingly.
I’ll faint.
So I walked ten minutes away.
And I walked ten minutes back.
Sometimes this makes me late but that’s better than found on the floor.
I want more than anything to be able to sit here, with you
and hold your palms
kiss you on the forehead
tell you
from everyone
that you’re alive.
I was eleven minutes early for the activity at Euston, so I walked around the
corner and found a park.
From the bench I look forward to see the sweatpants women do Tai Chi,
reaching for something I wanted.
‘Beauty is a byproduct of work’ I remembered,
Faces gather grace when they’re focused.
The sun fucked about with the boarded up windows of the dead hospital and I ate a banana.
The skin didn’t peel in fluid lines but tore. It was too green, too new. And I thought of how
my world is your world, and vice versa.
They reached together in their sweatpants.
I did look at the bench before sitting down.
It had been raining but the wood was absorbent.
This is where they sit, the early ones.
Making up the time.
And I’m alone with my thoughts.
Time’s up.

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