Paddington Park by Linda Drattell


Paddington Park
by Linda Drattell

We lived for a time in London’s Marylebone neighborhood
On Chiltern Street, a stone’s throw from Paddington Park 
It rains most of the time in London regardless 
of the time of year—my husband says this 
is what he loves most about London
you appreciate when the sun 
does come out

Our dog loved our walks 
through Paddington Park probably 
because of the other dogs he’d meet 
A variety of roses grow robustly there, probably 
because of the incessant rain and the city’s tending 
Benches are dedicated to people who have passed away 
who once declared this to be their beloved park, probably
because they took refuge there from rushing to work, rushing home

On one of our strolls through the park I noticed a heavyset man 
slumped on one of the benches, his eyes closed
his body rumpled beneath a pressed shirt 
I thought he was sleeping, perhaps he 
had grown tired from walking 
Then I realized 
he had died 

Two police officers 
arriving at the same conclusion 
tried to waken him—one left to seek help 
the other sat next to the man as if they were friends 
solidarity through gentle touching, shoulder to shoulder 
a macabre camaraderie, the deceased unaware of the living presence
How lonely the man must have been when he chose to sit on that bench

I looked away and continued past the rose bushes and other benches 
past a children’s play area, exited the park, strolled along
Marylebone High Street and stopped by a café 
drank a cup of hot tea at an outside table
my dog patiently curled by my feet 
thought of the man on the bench 
How lonely death is 
no matter the 
setting

Almost 
an hour later,
I circled back through the park 
and noticed the same police officer, 
still seated by the dead man, eyeing the park entrance 
for his partner to return. We both nodded, sucked our lips 
into a half pout, as if we worked for the same miserable boss, no
idea when help would arrive. How lonely death is, no matter the weather

Hear Linda Drattell recite the poem on the Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast:

Submit your polished poetry for the opportunity of being published on ViewlessWings.com and being interviewed on The Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast.

Linda Drattell is an author, poet, and advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing residing in Northern California. Her poetry has appeared in both online publications and anthologies, including Prompt for the Press; Viewless Wings; Wingless Dreamer’s “Field of Black Roses,” “Vanish in Poetry,” and “Ink the Universe” anthologies; and Las Positas College’s “Havik” anthology. She is an avid long-distance runner and owns an aging horse and three goats. She is a board member of the California Writers Club/Tri-Valley Writers Branch. To learn more about Linda, visit lindadrattell.com. Contact: @lindadrattell

Up ↑