It is slowly eroding, between a public restroom and a playground, shaded by shaggy trees. I have run by it a hundred times and never stopped, the long low form is the color of sand and earth and blends in well. But this one day it was hot and so we veered off and panted in the same shade as this mysterious sculpture. I had to laugh when I bent down to examine it and found the invitation above – Poems here.
It took a fair bit of googling to discover its identity – use the word “sculpture” as a search term and the much more famous works of art in Balboa Park crowd it out of the results. It is the Poetry Bench. Built in 2006 by 20 women out of cob – a natural building material made of clay, sand, and water and in use for thousands of years – it was meant to last a year. But a decade on, although a little worse for wear, it still invites us to sit a while in the shade and perhaps give it a poem. Patiently waiting and letting us hurry by.
(You can see more pictures of the bench and read more about its construction and subsequent lifespan extension here)