May 5, 2012: The reluctant I. CWE 216

The sun dropped white light onto the parking lot, and the spring’s morning air was chilled. I wheeled two plastic trash cans to the dumpsters by the apartments, saying silent prayers that no one saw me and reported me to the neighborhood association. The older man walked through of a row of small evergreens planted along the sidewalk that lined the parking lot. Long steel gray hair and a matching beard, the hair unruly and teased into a cloud around his orange face. He looked breakable at the waist. He was built like a pile of metal clothes hangers, wiry and thin. His clothes hung on his bony frame. His face was mapped with wrinkles. He walked to a parked tin can of a car, low to to the ground. Blue but bleached nearly white by the sun and covered with scabs of rust. He drew out a flat of flowers from the backseat of the car and balanced the tray on his knobby hands. He walked to a square of grass beside the communal mailboxes and laid down the flat of flowers on the grass. He returned to the car for a spade and a gallon of water. He took off his thin sports coat and laid it on the sidewalk and knelt on the grass. On all fours, he started to break apart the soil with the toe of his metal spade. He was shaky on his hands and knees. His hand was clumsy. He wielded the spade like I would, unsure and awkward. He picked up one of the seedlings and shook it, a spray of dirt crumbling from the thin net of roots. He was not a gardener. The square of grass around the metal mailboxes was no place for a garden.He kept planting the flat of flowers under the mailboxes.

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