Cactus

Cactus

No snags, I promise,
simply a gift so that we might part smoothly,
our points of difference buried.

The distance between two spikes
might once have measured our connection,
an infinite world of tenderness there.
But now, it’s enough
that each sharp star speaks of something long gone.

Perhaps you’ll take this cactus with you;
grow into it from afar,
rooted by it wherever you go:
Ulluru, Rio, Arizona.

Perhaps you’ll leave it behind,
allow it to stand in place of you,
holding your memory
in the same way a picture might,
or a closed book on a shelf in your room:
a silent, internal way,
the way of the animate,
the wrist-watch, the ghost.

I’ll tolerate either choice,
for some winter’s morning
you’ll fly home to darkness
and you’ll know that you’re alive,
because you’ll stroke this cactus,
recalling the moment it was offered,
and it will prick you,
and it will hurt.


'Cactus', from Lost Relatives (Steele Roberts, New Zealand, 2011), © Siobhan Harvey 2011, used by permission of the author. Poet’s private recording 2011.

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