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October 2019 Vol. 15 No. 3

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Diana Webb

A Place

A favourite bench. It commands a view of the old Shell Bridge so called because a giant clam adorns the keystone and two smaller the further reaches of each spandrel. The little flint stone arch remains an anchor, almost a place of pilgrimage. Remnant of old landscaping, it spans the gap between two small islands, green with wilderness, wild garlic nettles.

1.

She is glad it isn't occupied. She sits down, takes out her pot of salad, a carton of orange juice with a straw. Almost an hour she can sit here. Away from the fray. Alone. She nibbles at the salad, sips the juice. Slowly. Mindfully. The meal lasts twenty minutes. Then she packs away her litter, sits there quietly. She takes in the flow of shallow water, the lush green foliage round the bridge, the swift flick of wagtails to and fro in the trees. Then she stands up, sorts out her bag and turns towards work.

small copper-ridged leaves
tick down on the stream
a nutmeg aroma

2.

As he wanders along the path his legs feel like lead. Seeing the bench ahead unoccupied, his spirits lift a little. But when he reaches the spot, sits down, he thinks, 'So I am sitting here now. So what?’ Just be alert to what's around you, so his friend suggested. Every small thing. He puts his head in his hands. He can just hear the occasional splash from a fish. No worse here than anywhere else. He can't be bothered to move as birdsong comes and goes.

arch of pale flint
darkened by shadow
darkened by rain

3.

They sit down side by side on the hard slightly damp wooden seat. Drool. Over each other. Over the bridge. 'So cute. So cute.' The ducklings follow their mother beneath the bridge then soon reappear. No passage through. 'So cute! I want one'.

blackbird's clear notes
touches of rain
dimple the stream

4.

She settles on the bench. Takes a snap of the novelty bridge. Breathes in the air, the greenery. 'I could sit here all day long. But I need to walk to follow the river as far as my map permits. Have to make the most of it here. Not like this in London. So lucky the weather is fine.'

from high on the bridge
one dandelion shines
a small child's sun

5.

He arrives at first light so no one can get there ahead. Sets up his equipment. Hoping to capture a heron an egret or kingfisher. A passerby stops. 'No kingfishers. None for weeks if they're what you're after. Ah well. Just need to be patient.' And patient he is. Vigilant too. One good shot of an egret in flight. The sum of his catch. 'A good day though,' he thinks as he packs up to leave.

fragments of bark drift
past the tall trees
the odd white feather

6.

She grips the back of the bench. Lays down her sticks. Lowers herself carefully on to the wooden seat. 'I needed to come here one last time. Under the bridge where the greenery closes in to make a grotto. I saw her. All in blue she was. All in blue. She shone with blue. Stretched out her hand and melted away. But she was there. She was. She was.' Happy to sit, gaze at the space.

solid flint arch
through up and over
kingfisher's swirl


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