Watercolour is by Southsea-based artist, Kevin Dean - more about Kevin below.
The straggling line of benches face the sea,
Some gleam with varnish, others sag,
grey and weather-beaten, like stray and
unkempt dogs, hopefully awaiting kind
passers-by to choose to rest with them.
I wander over, reading the memorial plaques
hammered on their slatted backs, inviting
speculation on unfashionable names that are
never used today in The Times birth
columns. Often, below them, is a phrase,
a poetry scrap and even a bit of Masefield
averring that these long-gone parents
‘must go down to the seas again’-
(if only for an ice-cream and a paddle,
stopping for a brief glance at a faint horizon).
One faded bench is scarred – the plaque torn off,
its jagged nail-holes mark an unhealed wound.
Was it anger, sadness triggered by those now
forgotten names that led to desecration?
Maybe an unacknowledged mistress picked
with varnished nails at the metal, or a sad, lonely,
only daughter blamed them for her ills. Perhaps a single name was there, not two,
and fell unnoticed from the rotting wood?
I feel it’s fitting that I heal this bench
by sinking, grateful, upon its silvered slats
hoping that I won’t be remembered thus,
but permanently, affectionately lodged
in my family’s hearts, rather than here, a
meaningless name upon a mouldering bench.
About Diana: Diana graduated in Music and English at Bristol University in 1955, was immersed in many years of children and domesticity before surfacing to build a career as a classical musician in her early forties. Known by her professional name of Diana Bell, she taught hundreds of piano pupils, and was named in 1991 the Clavinova Teacher of the Year. She became an examiner for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, trained and moderated examiners and led ABRSM piano teacher workshops all over the country. She was a Music Festival Adjudicator, a performing pianist and in 2000 was elected Warden of the Private Teachers section of the Incorporated Society of Musicians. She completed a PhD from Southampton University in 1997 for fun!) while still working. Once retired she spent some enjoyable years achieving a First Class BA in Antiques and the History of Collecting. At 87 she is now launched on a new creative pathway - writing poetry..
About Kevin:: Kevin Dean studied at the Royal College of Art in London. He has been painting scenes from his home, neighbourhood and the wider community during lockdown, which he calls the 'Conona Chronicles. They are so popular, many are crying out for a book!