Ode to the Prickly Pear Cactus

PricklyIndeedPricklyPearCactus
Photo: Cary & Darla on Flickr

by Sara Aranda

They build green labyrinths
and winding hallways
for the sun, their fruit
the blood-orange of the horizon
between eyelids of geometric space.
White and yellow spines
line limbs scarred and writhed,
their wrists twisting cautiously
into ether.

They live over twenty years
in lingering dance
to some faint static noise
beyond skyline, where
among the frothing of lost radio waves
and sacred chants, the prickly pear
must have honed in on a peculiar sound,
of tongue or the washed intrepid womb
telling softly and in dim light
they must lean in and blush
with a hushed repose, a prayer
in mourning of near and distant death—
that death will become the awe
of every new green bulb.

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