MEADOW WITH FLARES
A cappuccino at the old coffee house,
Caffè Florian in St. Marks Square,
even if it’s extravagant but there are
three musicians playing light classical,
the kitchen is ten minute walk away,
the art and décor are an experience
and waiters are at peace and professional.
This past year it’s not been possible
to get away, unless you’re a celebrity,
so I’ve been pretending I’m on holiday
when really I’m walking to the end
of the garden to leave banana skins
and coffee grounds in the compost bin.
It’s cheap, I don’t need a passport
and no heavy suitcases to lug around.
With an easing of the rules it’s almost
a return to old times on the Great Western
seated with cell phones and masked bank robbers
passing new extensions, different clothes
on washing lines, air that carries a new sort
of promise and not mutations of the virus.
At Reading station I have a flat white,
walk over Christchurch Bridge to Caversham,
find a bench and eat a ham sandwich.
Swifts wheel over the rowing club roof,
a falcon sits like a Buddha on a sycamore
on the other bank, geese make some noise,
four young women put on jumpers and share
a picnic on a tartan cloth, some older
folk on collapsible chairs drink glasses
of wine, one man is under a banner that reads
‘World Record Sitting Attempt’, a girl passes
with black flares and a camera, while dogs
seem generally puzzled at all the action.
My almost Homeric journey over I join
my neighbours who have decided to meet
and share cups of coffee and conversation.
A radio plays ‘Do What You Can’ by Bon Jovi
while Shelly nods her red hair and explains
to me how in 2020 the song raised over
$6 million in a benefit for his home town.
Peter, from across the road, takes pictures
‘To remind me of the flesh and gold of life
because maybe I won’t get another chance.’
Rodney Wood currently lives in Farnborough. He worked in Reading in the ’70s, his son currently lives there and he is a regular attendee of the monthly open mics at South Street.