I wrote Saguaro when I was living in occupied Hohokam, Yavapai Territory. I was alone–or felt like I was. In reality, I was on the cusp of making deep connections with new people, amidst being ever-reminded of the people who loved me in “other” places. Everything, everywhere, felt so far away, and so close at the time time. In parallel, I was making acquaintance with Saguaro, the great, tree-sized cacti that hold water for months at a time in those deserts. They bear sweet, full-bodied fruits bursting with seeds. Their ability to hold water, to stand, wait and show themselves, and to feed the desert’s kin led me through that time, to knowing I was in community when I felt like I had to hold my breath. It was a long moment as I pushed-pause on experiencing love. I had the van, Elvie and Pabs (of course), and memories and hopes.
Flash forward to March 2020. We are in the first, early months of pandemic. I am suddenly deeply rooted, yet simultaneously cut off–mirroring my time in the desert. I submit Saguaro to Mobile Moon Coop’s Spring Equinox zine (#12), and it is received. With pandemic barring physical readings and gatherings, the publication opted to spread connective language through videos of poets and writers reading their work. With writing, with love, with life, it feels so often that we are flinging ourselves into space, and hoping we are caught, are heard. The silence that follows is often the test of our own security: in ourselves, in our communities, in our past and future selves in over-lap with others. As Mobile Moon–Rikki et al–do such a wonderful job of connecting everyone to foster deep security among these flingings, it felt like this poem belonged especially with Mobile Moon. So, I sat in the snow, gave this paper a flick, and became my letters sent to post-boxes. Below, is that video. Below that, is the poem–Saguaro.
In the desert,
I waste time with visions of mountains and snow.
My eyes searching for pines,
Seeing only Saguaro
The Water of Someone knowing me
hearing my name
From sweet lips
I pass a hillside and a different kind of forest opens up
Stretching green, thorn-covered leathery skin
Great barrel-chested cisterns
Standing water above the soil,
Holding October’s monsoon water for the
later months of now,
straws between earth and sky.
Waiting to return it to the earth
And the summer’s flowers at their deep rooted feet
The great green bulky arms cleave off to its sides in perfect balance.
Clumps of themselves drip like rain drops
Waiting to give Gourds of water
To the ground
For wary travelers-
Sitting with Saguaro,
I am folded in to
this circle of friends and family.
The aching over
called on from seasons past.
A backlog of love letters flood out,
Running to the mailbox
Pictures of the places I’ve been
These circles of Saguaro
And not Fir or Spruce
poetry so that everyone knows who I love and how.
Someone knowing my name.
And me saying theirs: