Century Plants


It’s hard to say
whether we would have slept less
easy in that rented room,
knowing that past the window’s
scratched glaucoma,
the empty lot full of sand,
they were waking—would wake—
from thirty-years,
these perfect, inhuman things,
able to achieve themselves in increments:
dusty crowns of leaves,
waxy, waist-high, ending in barbs
sharp enough to drain
us from our skin.
I remember skin’s
pale slivers among the sheets,
the silvery geckos
that knocked along the walls
hunting spiders—how
the spindly stalks rose,
one after the other,
rarely touching, each
capped by a tangled mass of gold
like a child’s crayon sun,
like the heart imagined
by someone who had never seen one—
someone, who,
falling asleep in the desert
might turn the word
shade or water
over and over on their tongue.