A view from a park bench

 

The lovers look at me on my bench a few yards from where they settle.

They try to ignore me, wrapping each other in each otherís embrace as if I did not exist at all.

Thatís been the trouble.

Non-existence.

As fourth kid in a little of five, I feel into that limbo of one more mouth to feed without the distinction of being eldest or youngest, so I wasnít privileged at being first or spoiled at being last.

I was nobody.

School saw the same procession as teachers enduring me as the next in a long line of Sarti family members, not bright enough to earn my way to college or talented enough to use sports as a spring board.

I became one more clerk in the local five and dime, the face behind the cash register who people hated for checking the price tags twice or handed the money blindly to without bothering to smile at me or thank me for their change.

Love, then marriage passed over me in the same way. I was accepted and put up with, by a wife who didnít want to be alone. We had just enough kids to justify the union.

My wife and I were never close, building separate lives while we shared the same bed.

I thought it all routine until my wife died and I faced the prospect of growing old alone.

Unable to bear the burden of seeking someone else, I settled in a dull routine at work until retirement, and then started coming to the park each day as if still going to work.

I donít stare at the lovers, but I watch.

I envy them their passion, even as I know it will burn bright briefly then expire.

They will have no old coals to stir, no long memories to mourn.

Spring always brings them out, sprinkling them among the benches like early flowers, adding a bit of color to the still dismal landscape and the aftermath of winter.

Their appearance is as much a sign of the changing season as the tulips are, and allows me to brace for the summer when I must once more share the park with the riot of kids who foolish parents have let loose on the world.

I like this time best Ė in-between.

As lovers ignites first of hope that autumn later puts out.

Leaves are turning green, instead of brown.

Flowers are coming; not going.

Sometimes I even pretend I am one of them, embracing the future, sucking the marrow out of life rather than have the life oozing out of my marrow.

Impatient with mere kissing, the lovers rise, then move on.

I remain.

Waiting for the next batch to arrive or for sunset to chase me back to my lonely apartment and its dull routines.

 

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