Night-blooming Cereus

By | 1 February 2020

After the Sally Mann photograph “Night-blooming Cereus, 1988”

Family: Cactaceae
Genus: Hylocereus undatus
Water: Regularly until flowering commences

Passed down from mother to daughter, friend to friend
this blood moon eclipse reflects in the waxy shadow
of my tea cup, an oxidized lunar sky. Milky clouds drift
across its surface revealing to peoples, ancient & present,
the moon moves beyond the edge; she is a great sphere, returning
the Earth’s light back to us each evening as an act of love.

The shadows of youth slide across the moon, clinging
to the bark of a tree, the siding of a house, the nearest bare wall,
the flat chests of boys and girls and those in-
between with roots that breathe the globules of wet air.
Once flowering each bud remains luminescent for one
night before withering into a dancer’s full-length skirt.
Spent blooms hug the neck of childhood,
a wounded swan seeking solace from the sins of men.
In the deep South, the night-blooming
cereus may flower all summer long.
Water sparingly once blooms appear.
Origin unknown.

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