Generations in the Park

I see from my apartment two recyclers in the park. The old one is sitting on a park bench gazing at the grazing horse. No recycler’s nag the horse. No great stallion, but neither the usual living-dead. He’s glossy, he’s not lame, his tail twitches, he eats with energy. The old one watches sprawled, with folded arms.

The young recycler is sharpening a machete on the cart. Lean and tough his body. He straightens and takes a glass bottle, then puts to his mouth a plastic bag as he walks toward the grass with the machete. He discards the capped bottle, the bag. He bends and swings: good form but little headway. The old one turns to watch the young; there are some words; the young one quits. The bottle, again.

The old one takes the machete and begins to sharpen it himself, instructing the young one it appears. But not with much success. The bottle for the young, the bag.

Recyclers come in all varieties of poor. Some have weedwackers with which to mow the overgrown public parks. They then fill sacks with grass and pile them high on their horse-drawn carts.

This old one here, a strong urban farmer uses a machete. He pauses often–it’s hard work. He gazes at his horse when he is resting–he’s fond of it. He sizes up the grass he’s done and glances at the sacks.

Sitting on the back of the cart the young one slouches, working on the bottle and the bag with practiced leisure. When he’s not stupefied he’s probably cunning–and to recycle in the city you have to be cunning.

For the old one is a farmer, wise like a farmer in the ways of growing and mowing, of the grass and of the horse. But in the ways of bits of copper and kinds of plastic, in ways which do not require wisdom, what is he? He will never be a cunning man. He walks the city’s streets in farmer’s rubber boots and loves the horse that pulls his cart.

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