• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 07
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Community Compost

It had been months since Frank had wheeled his bike out of the flats and onto the streets of Kreuzberg to cycle to the community garden. The wide treelined avenue was full of cherry blossom, pink petals falling to the ground like confetti, welcoming him back into the world. The smell of freshly bread drew him like a magnet to the shop on the corner and he bought ‘zwei brot’, one for him and one for whoever was working on the garden that morning.

Covid had put paid to his volunteering and for months he had watched the world lockdown and then open again from his flat window up on the third floor of a shaky old house on Weinerstrasse. As Frank cycled, he waved at familiar faces, and called back ‘alles gut’ when asked how it went with him.

But as he rode under the arch to go onto the garden, all was not good. The prayer flags he and Stephanie had hung when the garden first opened were down, trailing in the dirt. They’d been trampled and were matted and instead of fluttering in the wind, like they had that bright Spring morning when the sky was blue and full of birdsong. The walls he’d helped to paint, laughing with Suzi and then taking her back to his flat for wine and wild sex were streaked in pigeon poo, the paint faded, peeling off in parts. The orange dragon, with memories of firecrackers and noise, painted to celebrate the Lunar New Year was going nowhere.

The sign was still there. ‘You’ve made it! You’ve arrived at the neighbourhood compost!’ But where were the rows of salad crops, tomatoes on canes, cabbages covered in netting to keep the pigeons off? Where was everyone? Where was the laughter, the voices, children running around while their parents worked on the garden? Where was the sound of tools, of hoes and hammers?


Community Compost

Frank sat down on a low wall and listened to the thrum of the city beyond the garden. Not fully recovered from Covid himself, was exhausted from his ride, dejected by the state of the garden. He pulled a bottle a water from his backpack and took out the two bread buns. Crumbs fell on the ground as he tore into the fresh bread. A sparrow hopped up and then another. Frank smiled, and then noticed plants growing between the cracks in the concrete, poppies he thought, that must have grown from seeds scattered in the wind. He looked up when he heard a voice call his name and Stephanie walked through the gate, garden fork in hand.

“I saw you cycle past. Shall we do this, Frank? Shall we make the garden good again?”