local_library On Margaret Island

by Ben Armstrong

Published in Issue No. 281 ~ October, 2020

We examine the shade under the London Plane for two hundred years of curiosities, land on size. How long these things must take.


I become preoccupied with the production of candy floss by the path. The whizzer shifts sugar into food form, into cirrus strands, at the behest of the lady conducting these clouds with her wand. Up and away, children carry seeds across the parks on branches just for them, and bees moult their magical coats to reunite the shrubs


along each hem. On Margaret Island, we try to reconcile the function of the tarmac with the wildness of the rest, because we need both, and there is always a compromise to be had, always a window between us and beautiful things. We interact with NPCs in the hub. Pixels of water shift up and shoal.


On another plain, Strauss cracks through the hot air, and sizes up his seated audience. Emboldened jets trace patterns in the air. There is no milk today- only dancing. Seize.

Neptune keeps his eye on the sun.


I photograph a kind man beneath a single singing drain. We all look at different things on Margaret Island. Move in concentric circles. Concentrate. See. Sit and watch the moving picture from the bench, before TV.


We take after the horses mostly, are fed. Fling out our limbs somehow, like lithe streams of function, and hold in our hearts the hope for one clap to trigger the rest.


We see a real, live princess, and play pinball in the city until the sheer drop of the ball-bearing is too much for the bumpers in the museum with hundreds of lit-up machines. It’s easier to notice the dull ones, the ones waiting for repair from years of abuse, or a malfunction no-one could really have predicted anyway.


Later we watch you from the bank at night, when it’s still.

By the lined-up soles of shoes, we see the shades fall over the edge

like tired souls jumping into bed, as if they’d somehow earnt this sleep.

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Ben Armstrong is based in the Black Country, UK. He is an alumnus of David Morley's Warwick Writing Programme and has been featured in a variety of online journals and zines. His first collection, Perennial, was published by Knives, Forks and Spoons Press in 2019. A sequel is forthcoming.