Walking stick awareness
The come-hither of
the night blooming cereus
with its Cleopatra fragrance
lighting up your nostrils
brighter than the coyote moon.
The seduction of the wooing coo
of mourning doves
stirring that romantic seed,
breaking that silent longing.
The attraction of penstemon flowers
twinkling red in a sky of desert browns,
glimmering our rational mind.
The comforting shade of a eucalyptus tree
drawing us stumbling blindly
to its sensuous stolid trunk.
The proud bravado of a saguaro cactus
jutting its presence upright against
the lounging curves of the Santa Catalina mountains.
But look closer.
Look beneath these desert petals.
Desert has thorns and stingers and rattles.
Peer over the gate at desert wonders
but do not reach out with your innocent fingers
to touch the fur of the jumping cactus
or grab a beautiful rock
atop a hidden scorpion.
Look where you step
and carry a walking stick
to prod your untrodden way.
Your walking stick
is your divining rod,
a barrier between you
and the mountain lion
who leaps out from the grass.
Use your walking stick
to turn a rock,
to sweep a dark crevice,
or whack a thorny bush out of your path.
The desert is unforgiving
to the unaware,
to he who blunders into dark corners
and opens a door without first looking
if there’s a snake on the other side.
So take time to look beyond desert’s petals,
to poke around and under and behind
that cushy chair in the shade.
Then, fully aware, you can toss aside your walking stick
and sit and sip the sweet nectar of the prickly pear.