Have you have ever taken time to study the inscriptions carved into wooden benches in a local park? On Richmond Hill, falling gently to the river Thames is a beautiful public terrace garden. On its upper level is a row of thirty or more benches. Further down into the gardens there are pairs of benches placed together and then the solitary bench hidden in a more quiet corner.

This poem was inspired by the heartfelt messages written on those benches – most of course are very short and simple, but they all tell a story – and this is another.

Some stand in a row, transfixed in time and space
Wood arms touching wood as they secure their place
In prime position perfect to grip the past
Fondly remembering lives that went too fast.

Others live alone beneath a tree unseen
Quietly contemplating what might have been
Shielded and safe from the worst of sun and rain
Yet sadly unfulfilled, hiding their life’s pain.

"Jane loved to sit here enjoying every day"
And when she died her children needed to say
"That she had owned this spot", that is how they felt
Shame they did not know the cards that life had dealt.

Tom Smith walked his dog "Together resting here"
His friends knew him live his life without a care
Full of laughter handshakes easy charming rhymes
Making them smile, cry, having the best of times.

They often meandered through the garden ways
"Bearing sunny smiles on the wettest of days"
Long hours together "In this place their love grew"
How much they meant to each other, no-one knew.

Two benches along, Jane's husband sat “In peace”
Not quite besides her but yet in easy reach
He lived longer so they lost a seat to share
Their children did not think he would mind this chair.

Part hidden under branches of an oak tree
Tom told his perplexed friends what his words should be
"Had I courage I would have taken your hand,
Jane, and sat with you forever on this land".

Some stand in a row transfixed in time and space
Others sit alone within a quiet place
Those with a secret love have nowhere to rest
But the benches witness they gave life their best.

A.J.Young - January 2012