Encelia farinosa, or, Should a lid be lent to
extend preservation, the eye need not be asked
Brittlebush, which pushes its flowers out
as if gambling with an eye: gold coins,
the fist-shaped shrub brightened with a load of them;
brittlebush, which leads to bristle and brush,
teeth taken care of, its resin a prince
holding court in a mouth, rinsed and keeping white
despite its yellowed bloom. The brittlebush
a little bush compared to taller things.
Leaves, not left alone, but a home
to many short hairs, shorting the air
of moisture, hoarding it. Few mouths bore
through the body of the brittlebush,
though boarded often enough. A hover fly
here in spite of the spider that hopes to have it,
to make it hoverless, post-coveting.
Unendangered and to the desert endeared,
brittlebush’s placement engineered to smear out erosion
near highways—itself a burning bush when made
to burn for noses, urns that they are, to store.
Dry and rocky places, such as gravelly roadsides, desert floors, and hill slopes.
A stalky, exuberant shrub of yellow flowers in the sunflower family. The leaves are a pale gray-green-silver. The plant blooms primarily in spring.
“Brittlebrush” by Kristi Maxwell from The Sonoran Desert, A Literary Field Guide edited by Eric Magrane, Christopher Cokinos, and Paul Mirocha. © 2016 the Arizona Board of Regents. Reprinted by permission of the University of Arizona Press.