The bench and the old man

I was walking home one day
after getting into a fight with
my girlfriend and I decided
to cut through the park that
is when I saw him sitting on
a bench, leaned over looking
col and lonely while he was
feeding pigeons as it was
starting to get dark, so I
stopped and watched for
just a minute without saying
a word then I shook my head
and I said to him "hey man,
are you okay? he looked up
at me with a tear in his eye
and this is what he had to
say, "you know what? I have
been sitting here at this park
at this same bench every
single day at the same time
for forty two years and you
are the first person to stop
or even care why I am just
sitting here" I said "well sir
you see I just got in a huge
fight over nothing with the
love of my life and I needed
to get some much need air",
he smiled and patted the
empty space right next him
and said "son, please have a
seat so I can say what I need
then I will get up and leave
here at least for today", so I
thought about it and sat
down right next to him, he
smelled of alcohol I think it
was either bourbon or gin,
he said "let me tell you a little
story really a secret about
life. You see I held love once
too right here in my two
hands but I lost it over a silly
fight and I have spent my
whole life trying to find it
again, but sadly I never did.
You see I was about your
age when I met the most
beautiful girl in the world,
she made me laugh and
smile more than any other
ever had, so much so I
asked her to marry me, she
said yes but we never did
get married, we were so
happy and picking out a
date and we got into a
fight and after all this time
I even forgot what it was
but I guess that does not
matter the point is she got
up off this very bench right
there where you now sit and
ran out into the night I did
chase her but she got hit by
a truck right over there and
died in my arms so I come
here every day at the same
time feeding these damn
birds and cry, for the love
that I lost and over what?
Absolutely nothing at all, so
you see son when you find
love you need to hold it
close to your heart let her
know just how much that
you care and love her every
single day and all through
the night because you just
never know when it will all
disappear just as quick
as it appeared, do not ever
take love for granted or you
will end up just like me, and
son this is no way to be." I
sat there just for a few more
moments with tears
streaming down my face as
I watched him walk slowly
away, then I jumped up ran
back to her and held her
tight kissed her and told her
how sorry that I was, and I
did that every night, and
now forty years later we are
still together and very much
in love, as far as that old
man I never did see him
again even though every
night I sit here with my
beautiful wife on that very
same bench at the same
time feeding those damn
birds but with her right next
to me with a smile always
across my face.

Poet Richard M Knittle Jr.
#Poets Journey
Texas Poet Laureate Nominee 2016-2020


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