OUR GARDENER ALI
As the sun sets, burnt copper through city haze,
Heralding the coming eve, Ali takes his leave.
In the fading light, the overwhelming blue
Of his boiler suit is muted a pale violet,
Aching feet eased by the warm pavement,
Where thick heels overhang their worn leather shoe.
The pavement swarms.
Blackberried bellies heaving beneath concrete slabs,
The familiar scratch, trumpet to an undying crusade,
But not tonight, tonight he will wait, overshadowed beneath white wings,
Eden’s eaves, as the garden surrenders the night.
He makes his way to the rim of the park.
There, a mud hut, made a home by a single bulb,
Shelters all his worldly possessions,
A bed, a mini fridge, a change of clothes.
It is this change of clothes he takes, swapping the suit
For a salmon pink shirt and tie, loafers far too big,
Handed down from the Egyptian man who lives in villa 25.
We flocked, the neighbourhood children, perched
In groups of threes, on compound walls,
Nestled amongst milky white,
To test bony fingers against paintwork and watch,
Silenced and cat-eyed,
As lopsided, he takes to his beaten path. Fridays to the mosque,
Tomorrow we will walk the same to Saturday brunch.
His bald head in the half light wet nosed like a lamb’s,
Leaving behind a kingdom of jaded greens,
Such lush blades of grass, which in spite of the desert air, are laden in dew,
Haloed, under the buzz of the tennis court’s fluorescent lights.
Wakatipu High School