Living in this World

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

#92 City Harvest

City Harvest

Graterford Prison
heart of urban despair
old greenhouse brought back to life
Large hands
unused perhaps to nurturing
put seeds in tiny pots
tend sprouts and fresh new growth

Then say goodbye to healthy seedlings
with regret, perhaps
and send them out into the world
where neighbors work in city garden plots
to plant them in good earth
weed, water, watch them grow.

Our garden is among the hosts.
The man who works our City Harvest plot
is finding unexpected joy
in growing food to give away
(I tend the flowerbed in front).

Early on a Saturday
I find him there at work
hoping for an extra hand
and gladly drop my private task to help in harvesting
kale, collards, broccoli.

They’ve grown so big and beautiful
and when I put them in the tub
and gently push the great leaves down
until the water covers them
they shimmer with silver lights
in beauty that astonishes.
It is a mystery, a sacramental task.

I add a batch of flowers for the alter
and off they go to the little storefront church
where good food will be greeted with delight
and given out to those in need.

A sacrament, in truth, at every step
from their first start as seeds
in gentle hands at Graterford.

Good Air

A woman with a damaged mind
sits in the front seat of the 34
Silent for the most part, when alone
Loud, insistent, inappropriate one-on-one.

Regulars, for the most part
know to steer clear
Giving up the chance to sit
for peace of mind.

An unwitting traveler at times
is lured by the empty seat and trapped
Victim to a barrage
of loud demands.

But there are times of unexpected grace
when someone takes that seat
and knowing or unknowing what’s in wait
is kind.

The flood of words, slurred and hard to understand
meet patient warm respect.
Demands are courteously turned aside.

The world shifts.
A sweet fresh breeze
wafts from that troubled seat.
Tensions ease all round
and everyone drinks deep
of that good air.

Some things that have made me hopeful recently:

A great barren area of China transformed to green by systematic tree-planting and terracing to capture the rain water (see "Hope in a Changing Climate").

A new city-wide system of weekly curbside single stream recycling, including all plastics (even if your town already has it, for Philadelphia, this is huge).

A 150,000 member food coop in South Korea where mutual understanding has grown to the extent that farmers argue for charging less and consumers argue for paying more.

A successful legal challenge to the flood of mortgage foreclosures, based on the argument that the electronic holding entity, which financial speculators used for convenience in bundling and betting on their value, couldn't prove legal ownership of individual deeds.