I arrived at 11.21 am. I walked in through the entrance on Bedford Street. It was cold in the shade. The sun was welcomed. It was beginning to warm up the church patio. The flowers sparkled in the sunshine. A lady appeared at the grand doors of the church with a wide-brimmed pink hat. She had her watering can at the ready and her clippers in hand.
The green bedding knew it was time to be pruned. The benches were surprisingly busy. I had to squeeze in next to three men sitting down in their white overalls and dusty boots. They weren’t speaking English so it was difficult to listen to their conversation. It was a shame because I often like to listen to the conversations around me. Their voices were soft. I like people watching. I took out my notebook and flicked through the pages.
Mostly dreams. As soon as I wake I like to write the first thing on my mind. I don’t keep records of everything. I have learnt over time that freeing these morning thoughts enables me to clear space for new ones. Each day is a new beginning.
There were three more benches filled with workers in the same outfits. A woman dressed in black also wore dusty boots. She was laughing loudly and dancing around as the sunshine moved towards her. She circled her lunch box as if it was a ceremonial gesture. I laughed to myself. When I eat I often jiggle around with happiness.
The lady moved towards us. Her face was younger than first thought. Her kind eyes smiled as she weaved towards the grassy bank behind the benches. One of the men said something and they all laughed in unison. They smiled at the lady as she passed by and said hello, in English. The lady didn’t respond she floated past as if she were a ghost in her own parallel universe.
I peered up towards the aluminium structure towering over the garden holding one of the houses up that overlooks the far side. That is where all these workers must be from.
Three women arrive at the gates. One opens a small book as another opens a larger map. The third lady looks around for a landmark and points towards the plaque on the wall on the church wall. The sun has moved fast. It glows across the whole path now. The calm wind is colder than expected.
Another couple cycle through on their city bikes. A man emptying the bins tells them to slow down. They get off their bikes and walk through, heads down. The man was polite.
The girl serenading her lunch box has sat down. She grapples with the lid and a few grapes spill out on the floor. The man with the bin liners calls over to her “Pick those up… immediately” The girl laughs playfully but her face flushes red. She swoops down, her long arms glide out from next to her and she reaches down.
The ladies pass by us and a bench over the other side becomes available, they sit. They are talking in Italian… I think. There are a few words that a little familiar. They are pointing at the plaques and talking. One of the ladies takes off her coat. She rolls it up gently on to her lap and they sit back on the bench. They close their eyes facing the sun.
It’s relatively busy. It isn’t silent. The workers don’t seem to be bothered with the plaques. They are merely here to rest before they begin their shift again.
A woman is curled up on the far side of the raised bank. I hadn’t noticed her before.
The lady gardener takes no notice. She plucks away at the roses and clears some leaves away into a bag. The man finishes up the bins and takes a seat. He must have read these memorials over and over… but he still takes the time to read the message. He wipes the bench down. It has tomato seeds squirted across the back. Standing up with ease he heads back into the church.
The lady in the hat climbs down the steps from the bank. She has a few wrappers in her hand. The bins will be full again in no time and the man will return.
The lady is still sleeping on the grass and the three ladies from Italy starting walking around to read some of the memorials.
A few of the workers return to the site. The benches become vacant once more. The human traffic continues and rotation begins.