There must have been people on benches
Sitting still and vacant as I am now
While we circled the meadows and the trenches
In frenetic clop that, slowing to stroll, would not allow.
They watched the burning of something
Saw it quench itself by degrees
As desire faded to displacement
And hands were soon unclasped and free.
They must have watched, knowing;
Watched without wanting to see
The rebirth of an old familiar despair
And the fitful tumble of vanity.
Something somewhere inside this shell on the bench
Perks up to every sound
Where the wretched breeze unwinds its burden
Scatters footfall and whisper equally around.
Even the slow ones provoke alert
For maybe you’ve stilled like me?
They pass and the old fears reassert
That when all is done; unequal the hurt will be.
Even in these bare branches unseen
A tarrying bird shrieks overhead
Needy of companionable sympathy, he deems;
Ignores the hour and sits with me instead.
Both of us out in the bare wide open
Our souls stretched and spent
Our banished but not camouflaged presence
From welcome and familiar eyes exempt.