Cactus, Retract Your Spines!

Cactus, retract your spines!

You’ve spent too long in
vindictive mode, arms
sprouting in violent clusters
reaching out in stopsign
yoga pose. Now

It’s time for union,
spiky one. The outer must
befriend the inner. Juices
will escape to moisten the desert’s
panting tongue, breaking its
meteorological fast with the
champagne of the dunes.

In the rivulets your oblation creates
banks of flute-bound reeds will
spring up, and date palm parasols for
oasis towns; swifts will spiral
overhead in an airborne circus,
picking morsels of life
out of the glistening air.

Lizards, baboons, tree frogs, fish will
splash and dart amid the waterfalls
your noble act unleashes. And one day,
someone will strike out barefoot upstream
hunting the Source of all that bounty,
and the sharp sting you felt eons back
will at last be understood and loved:
the string flung outward finally
caught and made into a loop.

Or, cactus dear, stay barbed and static,
the cool, emollient sap beneath your armour
out of reach – a bitter joke for those us who
misinterpret your spreadeagled stance for
an old friend’s welcoming embrace and,
speared in the heart,
need it.

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