White exoskeletons of scorpions
litter the ground, shed skins of rattlesnakes,
a tarantella's cast off carapace:
the signs of transformed life are everywhere,
even in this scorched-stone-cindered place.
The dried stalk of a bloomed agave shakes
its seed in pods, but at the narrow tip
small plantlets form, and when the east winds whip
their stalks diagonal, they let go, sail
a little ways, and land, setting down roots.
Here every seed and stem falls on the bare
infertile stone, yet walking cactus shoots
rise tall as men, until root frameworks fail,
but where they fall, rent branches send out growth
which thrives and flowers here, confirming both
the death and resurrection of the lost.
Thorned ocotillos lift their slender red
blossoms, like trumpets, through the desert air,
and even in the worst heat, merely spread
their arms a little wider, when they're tossed
by winds, the long hands barely move, endure
both drought and frost as if they were a pure
image, now rose and green, once scaly gray,
of what will be again, if we could gaze
outside of time, if we could, patient, stare
across the winter's heat and summer's haze
and wait, persistent, for that single day
when ocotillos' flowering begins.