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Thursday 9 February 2012

The Flowering Cactus

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,
sinuous, twisting
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
Some of my older friends may have have had a slight feeling of déjà vu reading this. If so, it will be because this is a radical rewrite of a poem I posted two or three years ago and then deleted, considering it not up to par.


The Weaver of Grass said...

I didn't recognise it Dave - i love it. It is such a clever take on the events and written with such care and attention to detail.

Eileen T O'Neill ..... said...


A superb piece of writing with instantaneous sadness, power and imagery behind your words.


Carl said...

What a moving poem. The images are amazing.

JeannetteLS said...

Dave, I do think this may be one of your most moving, surprising, visually evocative poems of this year. For me, at least. Superb.

Claudia said...

wow..what a great metaphor david..powerful images..a bethlehem of sorts..for sure..

Brian Miller said...

really a fine piece dave...and a testament too on not giving up on pieces...was not around to see it the first time but really enjoyed this rewrite...

Tommaso gervasutti said...

The final stanza with the “exuberant flame fluttering” is a sublime conclusion of a great poem.
Your flowering cactus has noble ancestors, you have entered a marvellous ground…it reminds me of the Irish “furze” ( I am not sure of the spelling..) which is the northern “brother or sister” of the Italian “La Ginestra” made immortal by Giacomo Leopardi.

Windsmoke. said...

Great re-write because i wasn't around two or three years ago :-).

Rachel Cotterill said...

Usually I can figure out at least some of your inspiration for the poems you post - but this one has me stumped! Intriguing and mystifying.

Mary said...

Beautifully written, Dave!

Williamz JungleJuice said...

What an amazing parable of the individual search for meaning in a world trapped by the mythology of humankind. The flowering cactus is, in my mind, the perfect metaphor of the yearning spirit in a challenging landscape whose survival is so independent of its external, harsh environment. Thanx 4 sharing this vision. Always love visiting.

Dave King said...

The Weaver of Grass
A very reassuring response - and I guess I needed a bit of reassurance about this one, so very many thanks. Much appreciated.

Wow, I'm really delighted to hear that you found all that in it. Thank you very much for saying so.

Thanks Carl. really good to hear this.

Well, thank you so much for saying all this. It's really good to know.

Thank you for this. It is a powerful metaphor, I discovered that early on, but sometimes powerful metaphors are hard to control. (I find!)

My thanks for your very heldful comments. Always good to have.

Ah, you are finding wonders outside my orbit. I shall have to do some investigating. Thanks for giving me a new line of enquiry.

No, but thanks very much for this. Good to have.

I probably lost you because I do change the object of a metaphor at times, especially when it is extended as here.So the green head crowned with thorns is a metaphor for Old Testament times and beliefs, but then it becomes a metaphor for Mary, having also stood - briefly - for the instruments of Christ's passion.

Thank you very much.

I do enjoy your analyses of my poems. They are never far from the mark and often see things that I had not realised were there - which is fine, and just as it should be. Thank you so much for the effort you put in. It is most appreciated.

ds said...

Wow. You weave so much into this, Old Testament and New, a little Celtic perhaps (the green head)? It is seamless and quite powerful. Thank you.