Ocotillo Wells by W.F. Lantry

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.

@The Linnet's Wings 2023--All Rights Reserved