Friday, 9 June 2017

#24: Old tyre

Someone has made this old tyre and wire netting into a cactus shelter – I came across it on my daily walk a month or so ago and have been keeping an eye on it ever since. The cactus is growing to peep out over the edge of the tyre, though it’s not tall enough to push against the netting yet.

Who would do this? Start gardening in – not a wilderness, but a dusty track next to a parched riverbed, populated at the moment by oleanders, those friends of dry terrain (I particularly remember them down the central reservations of motorways in Sicily).

This improvised flowerpot could easily belong in a post-apocalyptic world, with humans trying to fashion artefacts out of leftover bits of rubbish. In my gloomier moments I do think a slow environmental apocalypse has happened to Andalusia, starting with the agricultural revolution 12,000 years ago and bringing us now to this denuded landscape with traces of old terraces like wrinkles on the mountainsides.

A step further in the imagination and we are in a world with no more humans. This is a recurrent fantasy of mine, imagining buildings on their way to crumbling and plants (no longer any ‘weeds’) covering remnants of civilisation so that the Chrysler Building, for example, becomes like those ancient overgrown Mayan temples ‘discovered’ in the Americas in the 19th century – though this time there will be no-one to do the discovering.

Which brings me to a poem I came across recently through The Reader Organisation which to me speaks of the world after humankind:

I sing of change

I sing
of the beauty of Athens
without its slaves

Of a world free
of kings and queens
and other remnants
of an arbitrary past

Of earth
with no
sharp north
or deep south
without blind curtains
or iron walls

Of the end
of warlords and armouries
and prisons of hate and fear

Of deserts treeing
and fruiting
after quickening rains

Of the sun
radiating ignorance
and stars informing
nights of unknowing

I sing of a world reshaped

© Niyi Osundare

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