At the beginning of the summer, I wrote about a certain feather-weed-stem, a four-foot-tall marestail I had discovered growing out of the cement landscape of a closed-off parking lot. This photograph, taken from that time, shows the weed blending into its environment of upright poles and bizarre graffiti. I was initially interested in the odd layout of the parking lot and thought it resembled some kind of primitive urban ritual ground (if that makes any sense). But then the marestail called out to me. I thought about this plant often throughout the summer, visiting it regularly at the corner of 5th Ave./16th St., wondering about life from its point of view.
Besides its proud, lonely, statuesque image, and besides the conundrum of how it had managed to sprout in a sea of uncracked pavement, what most impressed itself on my mind was this: that the circumstances which had allowed this marestail to flourish would inevitably be responsible for its destruction. The lot had been closed off (thus preventing cars and foot traffic from trampling on the plant) because it was slated for construction.
One day, in mid-summer, a portable building appeared on the site. By this time, the marestail had passed maturity, had flowered, and was sending seedpods to the wind. (Would they land anywhere but on pavement? Who knows.)
By late summer, the weed was dying – dried out and hunched over to the ground, it fades from the photograph.
Not long after, I passed the site one night and was confronted with a big pile of gravel. The lot had been dug up.
I passed the site today. They’re still digging. A sign says “affordable housing” is coming.