A fire hydrant sits near my house.
It’s scarlet hue, though fainted, sticks
out, popping with life, unwanted
attention—attention stucco dwellers
dread. But it’s not the hydrant
the people see, nor the bike riders
nor the work commuters, nor
the skateboarders, nor the window starers—
it’s the grass patches which surround it,
sprouting through decorative pebbles,
like a colony of weeds, but in unison.
At night, the solar lights lining my driveway
glow, brightening the patches
like a fluorescent bulb, encouraging it
to grow, to flourish, to remain.
The neighbors have taken a torch to it,
sizzled it down to the nub, charring it
black, like melted plastic over a bonfire.
But it’s roots are deep, well below
the leaking pipe.
It only takes days before black
turns to green, and the grass patches
I too, tried to rid the block of it.
But why remove the only patches of life
left? Why expose this artificial world?
Water lilies mask the velvet koi,
a kelp forest of roots, an entire wilderness
I cannot see, like the scattered pines
behind my walled yard.
Changing seasons require maintenance.
Instinct, I scrub away the algae scum
feeding on fertilizer runoff,
remove the drowned garden intruders,
a poor mole with its luck faded,
expel the plastic wrappers who fled
on trash day by the wind currents,
and extract the rejected shrubs.
Outside my yard,
where the dried up arroyos
littered with plastic and fast food wrappers,
wait for the rain, to be carried off
into the next flood where fish
mask themselves beneath empty bottles
and the elk become quenched by
what gardener is responsible
for the garden outside
Behind the Fence
Dirt encrusted wrappers
hug my fence line
a colony of ants
patrol the outer rim
scavenging dried peanutbutter
their small pinchers
breaking the material
down to tiny crumbs
before nestling themselves
back into the dried earth
A Wal-Mart shopping bag
caught on a barrel cactus
flaps to the wind’s beat
as I perch
on a ladder
trimming my palms
their fans falling
behind the wall
As I look out
over the precipice
but the wind
rustles the foliage
at my fence line
a roadrunner walks
tirelessly out into the open
but only for brief moment
before retracting back
into the desert-thorn bush.
My plants grow upright
in their own plot
but over the wall
weeds mesh with wildflowers
agave and prickly pear cactus
grow close to one another.
Photo: John Barks via Unsplash