Bath, Summer Solstice, 2009

I wake to a hot-air-balloon floating past the window.  We have been here before: the Circus, the Royal Crescent--but I hardly recognize any of it.  Only the glimmer of grey stone under half-sunlight sometimes, only the slope of a garden path.  We spend the day walking in circles.  The balloons going up all morning, all afternoon, all evening.  It smells like jasmine dripping from the petals of wet English roses.  And sometimes pizza, espresso, men soaked in ale, a woman's sickly perfume (she must have bathed in it, showered with it, washed her hands with it, drunk it like tea for its fragrance to follow her so strongly).  At lunch a surly Thai woman wishes, we're sure, that we'd never entered her restuarant, gives the flimsiest smile I've ever seen at every customer.  At the edge of night we walk to the park, where blue-and-white striped chairs, all empty, are having thier own party now that the loungers and the picnickers have fled the grassy banks.  Empty chairs, and the bells ring out for the empty hour. And now the curtains are drawn to block out the last, late vestiges of June light and the cricket is on the television, and the balloons, I think, have all come down to rest, and up the hill from us the circus and the royal crescent sleep.