Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The Country in the City

I grew up in the country.
There, you grow up easily
as an ear of corn:
you are as tall as the sky,
and time is only measured
by the engorging of berries,
in the birds' chirps and cries.

When I was in my twenties,
I moved to the city: prosperity
waited there for me. Frequently,
I'd look up at the buildings,
which seemed to gaze down on me,
steely as a mountain crag
looms above a valley.

But one day, I saw a weed, freed
from between two slabs of pavement,
grabbing at the sky in its up! up! up!
of never giving in. I too looked up.
It was then I started to notice the man
picking the scattered cans, like fruit,
the old woman watering her small patch of garden.

I looked up at the elevated roofs.
One caught my eye in particular:
a pebble-dashed rough-shod flat.
I climbed the stair case to the top,
walked to the edge and surveyed, and at that
I saw, on every building, others staring out,
their arms flung wide open, their faces facing the sound

of the Sun up above, pouring down.
I too opened my arms; I opened my mind,
and the rays struck like a bolt the rod of my spine,
and my heart became light; my mind became sight.
I went down to the street, bought a pitchfork and some soil,
planted trees and shrubs and herbs on roofs:
the city's skin now a spurt of leaf, its blood a glug of oil.

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