Sunnyside Conservatory

There were dreams written, names etched by fingertips into dust
On the shiny metal walls above the heads of transiting passengers
There were nets of metal mesh to catch sky diving pigeons
Grids of clouded glass and the occasional rectangle of blue
Ho! I saw a bird fly over outside..
Its shadow pass the clouded glass
Flight! I think joyfully, and perhaps a little glibly
from under the ground
in this man made cavern of mass-transit and
There are names written in illegible scripts under my crossed legs
And on the walls, the beams, the benches
Everyone is writing their names on things before they collapse
Everyone is working on their crumbling legacies
Card houses of our names written on things
We want to be remembered
I’d left the BART to walk and
I want to tell you this place was so strange
I was early for my meeting,
That close to the coast in San Francisco the clouds blow quickly,
Obscure the sun for chilly menacing moments
I was not pleased with the prospect of sitting on the curb in front of her house
In professional attire
Icy sheets of wind numbing my nose
Waiting for three o’clock
but low
Low and behold across the street is a jungle between houses
A building with a lone palm standing visible behind its two levels of vacant windows
Think: the secret garden
I swear this place has been sitting there for half a century waiting to provide me with shelter for this half an hour before my visit
A place to clear my head
A place where something might happen or present itself to me
It will be fortuitous
Sunnyside Conservatory
Is what used to be an exotic garden
It is still exotic, the plants that have survived the city’s neglect are overgrown,
The drive is unswept, the paint is ten-coats-thick-patchy-grafitti-cover-ups
I found this place across the street from where I was supposed to be
Beautiful houses, well kept, and then this place-
A lone palm stood in the windows that no longer had glass
A lady with pants up to her boobs walking a scared looking old dog
Told me
The hoodlums come here to smoke pot!
She told me the owner could have made a lot money selling this lot, she herself had lived in a house just a third the size, that one right down there in fact
Nodding to a cottage by the street
She cultivated this exotic garden.
Irreplaceable plants from all over the world
She made this oasis and gave it to the city when she died
And now all that’s left inside is one palm tree in the middle
Of a bare dry dirt bed with a couple butts
This woman told me she picks some weeds every time she comes through
And IMAGINE how beautiful this place would be if everyone
Who came through
Did that.
Instead of writing their names on the walls? I thought
What of the blessings of anonymous origins to which we owe our existence today?

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