Our whole city is grey. For some reason when they were planning it they forgot to put in parks. I think they thought they’d plant a tree or two when they had time and then they forgot, and the whole city became overpopulated with people and cars and subways and pollution and by the time they remembered there was no space for a tree or even a pathetic patch of grass. So now we have the problem that the only areas left are on top of the buildings. Some bright guy, an Italian who copied the scheme from Brazil or some other corrupt place, has decided that this is an opportunity and while no one was paying any attention bought the rights to the air above skyscrapers. So now if you want to grow a lawn or a tree atop your highrise you have to pay him a tax. It’s not very much this tax, but still, if you’re poor like us it amounts to a lot, so basically the only people who can afford to breathe clean air or grow vegetables on their rooftops are the comfortably middle class who live in penthouses.
I’ve found part-time work tending a banker’s rooftop garden. He feels like he’s getting a deal with the low wage he’s paying me, but I’m the one who gets to breathe fresh air every day and look down on the workers in the city as I rake through the fresh earth and crumble the soil in my hands. A ladybird landed on my finger today. She whizzed a few times in the air and held on tight. All through my weeding and spraying she clung to me, even as I tried to shake her off.
I had a wife who never made it over. She is somewhere on the other side of the world. We used to call each other until she changed her number or it became cut off. She called me to tell me her new number, but I was entering the subway at the time, you know that area near the stairs when you can still receive calls? She must have thought I heard her. I think she was going to join me, but she got a short job in Dubai and after that I didn’t hear from her. When we were young we’d cling to each other like this ladybird stuck snugly to the palm of my hand.
It would be so easy to smash, but I can’t.
So these are the kind of thoughts a gardener can have all day long if he’s one of the lucky ones who does not fall dizzy when he looks down.
Courtesy of The Creative Process website.