I sit on this bench, panic rising like sap within me. Perhaps if I sit here for long enough, on this bench, under this plane tree, a skin of mottled bark shall grow over me. A modern wood nymph in a city park overlooking the Tolka river. I shall record the beer cans, condoms, polystyrene coffee cups, the detritus of lives that discarded in the river. Nothing will bother me. Nourishment will be free.
I see a woman with four kids. No, three because trailing after her is an au pair who carries three schoolbags on her shoulders, and clutches a lead which reigns in a tawny Labrador. Unlike me, this woman has all the right accessories: clean children, a dog, a live-in minder. The au pair is young with dark hair and painfully thin legs. She has a sadness common in many of the girls who choose this work. Hunched shoulders, downturned mouth, eyes drifting away from the gaze of others. They have seen too much in the homes they have run away from, and they never belong in the new homes that they haunt.