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.

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