Low Maintenance Roof Garden

by Matthew Caley

We take the air of our low-maintenance roof-garden

this austere quad our best line of defence

from the smoky street where we hear arteries harden.


Honesty seems a new form of pretence

for here is hardly either Avalon or Eden.

Yet this gravel reach can seem a wild expanse.


We splay on deckchairs wilting in the sun,

as window-boxes bear the flowering quince,

the flowering plum. We live above neon, shop-signs, gargoyles, gorgons.


If you leap for joy do not leap over the fence

of our low maintenance roof-garden

as one did once and some have done so since.


The street below. The sky above. The garden inbetween

with only barren stones as any sustenance,

mica-chips, wave-smoothed glass, obsidian –


we lie on these hard stones doing penance

for not having a warm shoulder to cry on.

A shingle beach half way up the sky has the appearance


of the temporary. Yet we mark our territory aeon after aeon

and reacquaint ourselves with innocence,

lying between the stars and Municipal bins.


If there’s anything to take we take it on sufferance.

Taking the air of our roof-garden.

It’s night. We hear a noise. Pardon? What? The noise is silence


or dawn bringing the black hat of the traffic warden

to pin the law on the windscreen’s crazy fluorescence

below. We sit tight in our low-maintenance roof-garden.