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York in Poetry: Still Life - The Turning Point

Posted on 24 November 2012 | Poem

Outside the cafe in the clean York air,
see the man sat alone beside the empty chair.
The man with his arm in the air.

Across the square in the clean York air,
see the woman alone in the crowd.
Looking but not seeing,
the man sat alone beside the empty chair.
The man with his arm in the air.

She seems to be lost, she seems to be searching,
searching for someone or something.
Someone or something she believes is there in the square,
with the man sat alone beside the empty chair.
The man with his arm in the air.

She seems to be pleading, she seems to be needing,
pleading to be needed by someone or something.
Someone or something she needs to be there in the square,
With the man sat alone beside the empty chair.
The man with his arm in the air.

She seems afraid, she seems scared,
scared that whatever it is she’s seeking isn’t there.
Isn’t playing hide and seek with her in the crowded square,
The square with the man sat alone beside the empty chair.
The man with his arm in the air.

Now she’s getting frantic, now she’s starting to panic,
Panicked by the idea that she’s been alone all along.
Not just abandoned in the heat of the swarming square,
the square with the man sat alone beside the empty chair.
The man with his arm in the air.

She’s so wanting, she’s visibly weeping,
Weeping and sobbing over something or someone.

Something or someone she once thought was there in the square.
There in the square where there is nothing,
not a sound, not a flicker,
not even the wiggle of a single solitary finger
on the end of the hand of the man with his arm in the air.
The man sat alone in the square beside the empty chair.
The empty chair he is keeping.
Keeping empty.

She freak outs, she’s screaming,
screaming out, giving in.
Giving it all away in a scene that seems to go unheard and unseen,
by the man sat alone in the square beside the empty chair.
The man with his arm in the air.

She twists and she turns,
Turns without knowing which way she is turning,
and flees from the sunny square in the limpid York air.
The square where the man still keeps his arm in the air,
the air, the air,
the stifling air.
The square with the man, still,
Still sat alone beside the empty chair,
The chair, the chair,
The empty chair the man with his arm in the air
is saving
there in the square.
Saving for no one.

- David M Holbrook