Friends knew he lived alone
in an old fashioned block of apartments
with large windows facing the sea
and a lift like a lion’s cage
that gave a tired roar and a belch
as it trundled to the fifth floor.
His habitat was a cocoon high
above the city’s motor zoo and lollipop
trimmed trees sewn in neat rows
across the green parks
that had no knowledge of drought
as summer scoured the soil.
He never shared his private retreat,
meeting in cafés or proposing picnics
on the pier that fingered the bay.
His friends teased him
with the title of paper gardener.
He only smiled in reply.
Little was known of his domestic life.
His books on gardening, a newspaper column
and magazine articles on the mysteries
of plants, the soil and weather
were treasured by thousands of readers
inspired to seed and feed his words.
One morning he missed the deadline
for his newspaper column and failed to respond
to personal visits or telephone calls.
The manager of the apartments
was urged to unlock the door.
He found the paper gardener on the floor.
Lifeless, his body cradled an orchid,
his face buried in the bloom’s creamy trumpet,
the cheeks freckled with pollen dust.
The room was a hothouse
filled with exotic plants of fabulous variety
in a climate he controlled.
CONTENTS: FEBRUARY 2011