I spend a lot of my working life travelling. Nowhere especially exotic or exciting, and I also spend a ridiculous amount of time either sitting on an empty coach with only the salt-of-the-earth driver for company, or occupying a bench, cafe table or edge of a kerb, waiting for something or other to happen( a plane to arrive at the airport, students to return to a meeting point or the coach to get back and pick us all up and a few other variations)
When I’m waiting for something, I take a mental step back from what’s going on around me and try and observe in minute details what I see and feel. And then I start writing it down. Some of the pieces make it into a proper poem, others are still locked away in my notebook, unread.
This is one that did make it into a poem; I wrote it while hanging around somewhere off Oxford Street, trying to avoid the shops and the crowds and found myself in a little oasis of a square. London is full of these places, often within a stone’s throw of major tourist areas, and they are usually deserted. I sat on a slightly damp bench for about an hour until students began to trickle back in and disturb my tranquility.
A green island in a sea of noise;
Sunlight gleams on wet leaves,
Pigeons preen damp grey feathers.
A siren in the distance screams,
Barely heard over the constant
Baseline rumble of traffic.
Crowds, thinned by rain,
Disperse amid the stone jungle.
Overshadowed by chestnut and plane,
Palm trees shed raindrops,
And the wallflowers, heaven scent,
Fill the air with unexpected sweetness.