The Bog of Despair

By Katy Evans-Bush

We’d lunched on Greek salad and coffee
In a place with white walls and a skylight,
And when the guy in the corner’s phone
Went off in a polyphonic can-can
We laughed without even trying to hide it.

We’d looked in a shop where a scarf
Of silk sat waiting for me to buy it,
And walked past a dog in a puddle
Of mud, who shook his coat,
But missed us – and we laughed.

The Heath was lovely that day –
The air was full of spring.
We’d walked up a foresty path,
Past a rubber hung like a thief on a tree,
Full of swag, and we’d laughed and laughed.

We’d walked past the swimming pond
And up the mound of Parliament Hill,
Talking about John Keats,
And other people we know, and the dog,
Looking for somewhere to sit, and laughing.

But every bench we came to
Was engraved in memory of someone
Loved and regretted, young, a child.
I imagined them sitting quiet
Along the hill, or invisibly playing.

The benches sat on a fat slope
Far from the blue chiffon horizon,
The blink of Canary Wharf,
The London Eye’s diamond necklace.
We read them, and flinched, and laughed.

We turned and started down:
You had to get your kids from school,
And I had a shiny scarf to get,
And the jeweller’s-window view
Of London had ceased to amuse us.

Your new shoes from Paris stuck
In the mud, and we laughed: the Bog
Of Despair! We laughed because
We could feel, behind us, up the hill,
The children watching us.

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