Monday, August 18, 2008

For Groundskeepers


On a rainy Monday in the Pacific Northwest, here's some blank verse for groundskeepers.





For Groundskeepers


At universities and schools, at parks
And hospitals, at bureaus and museums,
Banks and supermarkets, rows of shops,
Amidst steel and glass, beside the wood,
The brick, the concrete, walls, walks, facades,
In stadia at which rich athletes play,
There are the grounds, that space where those who plan
Our public spaces want to keep the Earth,
A.K.A. Nature, domesticated--kept
As in maintained. And after builders have
Departed and investors disappeared,
Now that the planners have moved on to plan
Their other things, responsibility for care
Resides exclusively with those who keep
The grounds; who dig and clip and weed and care,
Remove what's dead, restrain the growth that has
Become obese or weird. "Groundskeeper" is
One name by which they go. They are by all
Accounts almost invisible, paid not enough,
And tasked too much, no doubt, but genial
In most respects, it seems; the work with soil
And shrub, with grass and tree, must teach
A kind of patience; people who pass by,
Oblivious to the keeping grounds require,
Must also cultivate a sanguine view.
The litterer, the snob, the ones who've never
Held a shovel, wheeled a barrow: no sense
In getting angry at such folks, who are
Less sensitive than plants. Ah, well: Here's thanks
To those who keep our grounds, who care for our
Exteriority. Our cities and our towns,
The places where we work and where
We recreate would be oppresive or
Hard blighted spaces, were it not
For ones with barrows, clippers, spades.
Appreciation's due to those who keep
For us the grounds, who keep them up for us.

Hans Ostrom


Copyright 2008 Hans Ostrom
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