It grew where few eyes witnessed it,
a bloodstained hand upon the land,
a rosebud in the wilderness.
Alone and conscious of itself, it stood
with little to recommend it
save its beauty.
Less still to worship it.
And nothing to which it could turn and say:
There stands a plant like me!
Only a lonely man
saw in the bloodstained hand
his spirit twin, his next of kin.
He was its saviour.
It was his.
Day after day
he travelled in the lonely places
creating in his mind an emptiness,
a desert land where the frail bud,
so finely knit by cruel pins,
might thrive and grow.
His mind reflected back the image of the rose.
And when the wilderness stood dry
and dust and sand and empty sky
condemned the lovely thing to die
he threw himself upon the thorns
and fed the roots with blood.
Common as cow dung the ways of the stranger,
yet rare to the plants as nitrates
in a desert running to dust.
Wise men travelled for to view
the all-exciting bloom,
yet overlooked with careless eyes
the green head crowned with thorns.
Across the desert sands the winds came.
Tohu wa-bohu, * tugging it.
A Bethlehem of sorts. Pockmarked, its Mary,
offering the child her breast,
her tough and gutta-percha flesh, became
what every mother hopes.
Dark brown skipping rope,
over and under the delicate bairn,
coiled like a python round its neck,
umbilical cord of a wounded mother
tethers the buoyant, exuberant flame
fluttering there like a kite on a string.
* Tohu wa-bohu: Hebrew for without form and void
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