Just between the tree
And the old bench
Is where it used to be
No. Don’t try
To look harder
Than you already are
It’s not there

The shop sign still swings
In the wind
And the leaves of that tree
Blow gently down
And where they touch
The green-bladed grass
Is where we’d play

But a playground is only
A playground
When someone plays

And no one does these days

It’s hard to be happy
All of the time
It just is
We accept that
Now that we’re all
Grown-up, you see
When we were children
Before we knew better
We’d play
And play
And play

What was so wrong with that?

I have fond memories of that space
That particular place
Where we’d run
And fall
And pretend we were aliens
Before bills and regulations and voting and shaving and repossessions and performance appraisals and three dimensional gannt charts
And car-pooling and license fees and insurance and community responsibility records and planning permission and balding and pot-bellying
And wrinkles

What was so wrong?

Of course we never sat on the bench
The young never do
The olds would sit
And watch us play
And wonder how we could be so daft
So young
And they knew
It wouldn’t last
Much longer
I wonder if they were jealous
Or just patient

Even now
Sitting here
Just as old as they must have been
I have no idea

With their wrinkles and tight-fitting clothes and frowns and smelly breath
I have no idea

But I know that I loved it
Playing there
With you
Why can’t we do that now?
Take my hand
Won’t you?

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David Baillie is a freelance writer and artist. Born almost thirty years ago in Scotland, he now lives and works in the East End of London.

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