I Wonder What They Pray For

by Graham Cunningham (August 2019)

Spring in Central Park, Adolf Dehn, 1941




As I watch them in the park

spry old couple, ninety odd

hearts re-bored and tooled up

with walking, hearing, seeing aids

a twinkle even in the eye

leaning close, holding hands

these taller, longer-living things

our ever-lengthening DNA string

she blushes, he grins, I wonder who

we must thank?


The gentleman scientist medicine man?

Pioneer, fingering his waistcoat chain

furrowed brow at his flaming hearth

his passion to know the biology that drove

his father to build the family name

and his mother to die giving birth to him.

Or the coming of the public drain?

The engineers who drove it on

dug by expendables who died

in the cause of Health & Safety.


What must they make of Clipboard Man

auditing the park?

Access Officera safe job

checking on the work

of trained operatives painting rails

in yellow and in black;

he eyes the tree trunks

ponders threats that they might represent

to reckless children playing;

old couples with failing sight.


And if they should trip on broken flags

will they tut and laugh; or

will they be prey to Clipboard Youth

prowling in the park?

“Any injuries or accidents Ma am?”

With his one-day-training, menacing charm

his plastic wallet and his trust-me tag

will they recognise his kind

or has fifty years of filling forms

left their instincts paper-thin?


I wonder what they pray for now their lifetime journey’s run

from church up aching Sunday hill

to a picnic in the park.


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Graham Cunningham is a retired British architect. He is also a writer of occasional essays
and even more occasional poemson aspects of political correctness and mass media group think. His work has been published in a number of online journals in Britain and the USA.

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast


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