Flowers in the Cacti


In a nest of thorns the hummingbird feeds,
Prying open the clenched fists,
Protecting warm fleshy centers
Where sweet nectar rests
In folds of velvet pedals,
Simmering in a pollen soaked bath.

But the hummingbird stays hungry
With nothing to prove, nothing to lose,
Imprisoned however
In a frantic sputter of movement.

If it stops, will it know
Spring is built upon skeletal winters,
Dormant desires, littered masterpieces?
A mulched decay of seasons,
Fallen statues that once wore halos of blooms,
Crowned by Mother Nature
When she set her army to work
In the Sonoran desert;
The soldiers that kept watch, daring dreamers
To extinguish in the bright exposure.
Can you flourish in all that heat? she’d demand,
Or will you slither into the parched earth
And declare silent wars at night,
Rattling and howling in protest?

Does the hummingbird feel the residue
When it suckles the sunbaked blooms?
Feel the thorns as it wedges its
Fluttering body, its receptors heightened?
Do thorns make it sweeter?

Or perhaps thorns are
A nuance.
A nuisance.

One thing is certain,
The hummingbird
Stays hungry.
That alone
Gives it

-S. S. Hicks




23 thoughts on “Flowers in the Cacti

  1. Don Royster

    Again, another one. Always surprising me. Normally we think of spring as rebirth but we don’t think of that rebirth arising out of the skeleton of winter. And that hummingbird.

    For some reason, that third stanza brought images of the conquistadors to my mind.

    As I was reading the piece, it made me think that this would be a good choral piece. It has all the elements.

    There’s a lot in this one as yours always have. Another really good one. 🙂

    1. desertdweller29

      Thank you, as always, for your generous comment, Don. You know, the conquistadors aren’t too far off from what I imagined the saguaros becoming at sunset. They’re constantly changing in the light. I should have the Boston Pops Roundup playing in the background!

  2. L. T. Garvin, Author

    This is truly beautiful…I can certainly envision the hummingbird’s struggle in prying the nectar from the flowers. We have hummingbirds here, I never really thought of them with cactus, they certainly get around. I adore flowering cacti too and wish they would plant more in our city since we go through extreme periods of no rainfall.

  3. ramonawray

    So you sat down in your backyard, watching the birds, and then you wrote this?! Wow… Just when I think there’s no way you can still surprise me, there you are, doing it again 🙂 Beautiful.

  4. Debbie

    Such brave little birds, trying to get nourishment where they can! Something tells me they’d be better off feeding in my neighborhood, where sweet nectar is prolific!!

      1. thefeatheredsleep

        I have never been to AZ much to my chagrin but hope to, I hear it’s lovely. I have gained new found love of the desert here in America and your poetry includes that landscape so often I really like that, although I suspect you could write in any setting

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