Sentinel of the desert You are a warrior. You stand high on the mountain, arms raised. You have guarded the peaks for more than a century. Saguaro, from the Sonoran You are a survivor. Morphing to withstand drought, adapting to harsh conditions. You have covered yourself with protective spines to repel your enemies, Transformed your accordion-like ribs and succulent stem into an ever-expanding cistern, stretched your skin, absorbing and growing. You store nourishment knowing difficult days will come, spreading your shallow roots wide Radiating outward, as broad as you are tall, one stem piercing far into the earth. You will endure. Sentry of the desert Even as you brace for attack You are a refuge. You grow limb after limb to hold the creatures of the arid land. The Gila woodpecker carves out nest holes in your flesh, using your pulp to make a casing. Elf owls, flycatchers and cactus wrens burrow into your hollows. Oh crested Saguaro, Like me You were damaged once, scarred. Maybe it was frost or lightning or a violent force Or maybe even something deep in your DNA that harmed you But you healed. Mutating, splicing, changing. Now you are distinct, cristate among the other sentinels with your fanlike forms. Your cells divided outward and gave you a crown among your thorns. Through injury you were transformed. Durga of the desert, teach me To be a gentle vanquisher, to stand tall on the mountain, to adapt, to provide shelter To lift my arms to embrace the wind, to face the world. To accept the rain, to absorb the sun Hands upwards, in a perpetual state of prayer, Giving White flowers in spring. Red fruit in summer.
If you haven’t already, check out some of the other Iowa Writers’ Collaborative columnists:
Laura Belin: Iowa Politics with Laura Belin, Windsor Heights
Doug Burns: The Iowa Mercury, Carroll
Dave Busiek: Dave Busiek on Media, Des Moines
Art Cullen: Art Cullen’s Notebook, Storm Lake
Suzanna de Baca Dispatches from the Heartland, Huxley
Debra Engle: A Whole New World, Madison County
Julie Gammack: Julie Gammack’s Iowa Potluck, Des Moines and Okoboji
Joe Geha: Fern and Joe, Ames
Jody Gifford: Benign Inspiration, West Des Moines
Beth Hoffman: In the Dirt, Lovilla
Dana James: New Black Iowa, Des Moines
Pat Kinney: View from Cedar Valley, Waterloo
Fern Kupfer: Fern and Joe, Ames
Robert Leonard: Deep Midwest: Politics and Culture, Bussey
Tar Macias: Hola Iowa, Iowa
Kurt Meyer, Showing Up, St. Ansgar
Kyle Munson, Kyle Munson’s Main Street, Des Moines
Jane Nguyen, The Asian Iowan, West Des Moines
John Naughton: My Life, in Color, Des Moines
Chuck Offenburger: Iowa Boy Chuck Offenburger, Jefferson and Des Moines
Barry Piatt: Piatt on Politic Behind the Curtain, Washington, D.C.
Macey Spensley: The Midwest Creative, Iowa
Mary Swander: Mary Swander’s Buggy Land, Kalona
Mary Swander: Mary Swander’s Emerging Voices, Kalona
Cheryl Tevis: Unfinished Business, Boone County
Ed Tibbetts: Along the Mississippi, Davenport
Teresa Zilk: Talking Good, Des Moines
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I like the phrase "gentle vanquisher."
So evocative... takes me back to our adventures in the Sonoran desert and Tucson... thank you for taking me there!