The Park Bench
Surface Earth, all rights reserved
They are cluttered on the benches beneath the trees. Again, they have left open the benches in the sun. I wonder, who gave them this right? I asked my brother the other day, “is it legal?”
He sighed, a great stirring as he lifted the air from his chest and back inward again. “Is t legal?” He closed his eyes, ruefully shaking his head. His little sister, always the same.
“Gwen, does it matter whether it is legal? Have you not heard of Darwin’s Law?”
Darwin? I have heard that word. I can’t remember. My mother, perhaps? My father? Before they were taken? My brother knew I could not recall.
“In the time before, before the laws were made, there was a test.” He stretched himself, “the birds of flight sailed above and through the skies where no one else could touch. Upon reaching ground, the birds of flight were honored for their extraordinary power, revered.” He scratched at his back, looking toward the sky.
I know this story, I can remember from the time I was young, my mother sang me a song of times before. I knew my brother would take his time, in speaking, and now as I waited he gathered his thoughts. I glanced to the benches below, all the ones beneath the trees still full. The sun was at high noon, the wood would bake beneath one’s feet.
I watched three women, in black, hobble past the sun covered benches. One craned her head, lifting her eyes from beneath her brow bone. I am sure that once she had eyebrows. I could see slight tufts where perhaps something else used to grow. The other linked her arm, “never mind,” I heard carried into the wind. I watched their backs, stooped under the weight of black, worn almost shiny by age.
“Oh no!” I cried. My bother startled.
“What is it Gwen?” His eyes opened, and he stopped mid-flight on the verge of continuing his lesson.
“Nothing brother. I saw a young boy, on a skateboard. I feared he would overtake and knock down the women.”
My brother peered closer at me. “Gwen, but that is what I am telling you. If that young boy had not chosen to steer around, he would have overtaken the women, ran them down and perhaps continued. His bones are strong, not tried by age, not worn.”
I sat mystified. Is that all? All he would say? I asked whether there was a law regarding the benches. I looked at them again but it was the same. People atop the benches in the shade, birds on the ground, hopping from the burning asphalt, playing tricks for crumbs. I shook my head, taking in the park.