30 Dec 2009

Tending a Dying Garden in the Fort Williams Atrium

Twin planter islands
brick lobby diamonds
junk Fortis soil leftover from the ‘80s.
Is this poinsettia circling the drain?
Will another day of water bring it back from the brink?
A pointless point of pride to contrive
botanical stewardship, my first week on the job.
Empathy for plants, no one yanked me
from my fetal stage, guess I should
return the favour.

Capitalist irrigation:
If you water them right, they won’t be
to share.

Granddad reminds me I’m at the
“bottom of the ladder”
during the dreaded drive to work
that’s what they call this,
as if I didn’t know.
“But you gotta start somewhere.”
Yeah, and you gotta finish somewhere.

Insufferable questions continue:
How much am I making, what do I do,
mainly wash floors, is that what I mainly do?
What else? Yeah, but what else?
Do I know what construction workers make?
Continuing comparison to construction workers
as if I’d be doing this if I could get anything better.
I can tolerate, even like my work
if I’m not reminded of my place, again and again.
I can find motivation for a paycheck, if not purpose
in working on the bottom rung, the floor-scraper
let's see you climb without the first ten, turtle-king.

He’s not ill-intentioned, just ninety
a charming eccentric out of touch old man
not “arrogant” exactly, just innocently oblivious
to anything outside his own awareness
and a master woodcarver, he’ll remind you
frequently, as if you’ve forgotten
refreshingly earnest in earned vanity.
If I didn’t say anything nice
in the only poem I’ve ever referenced him in
before he circled his own drain, I’d be sorry.

I think about my departed grandma Alice
more these days, memories hit me.
Death just happens, there’s no dealing with it, no bargains.

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