A Synonymic Description
Fortress of wren, holder of nest,
needled crib, godfather to egg
—aflame in dawnlight, the wrencall.
Jumping cholla, la brincadora,
la viajera, la vela de coyote
—alight in a lightness of being, borderless.
Drinker of sand, halo of bones,
chain-hanger, Cylindropuntia fulgida
—a bit of sun, earth-fallen, taken aroot.
Spear-haired trickster, dagger-eyed freeloader,
angelic bonsai, skeleton of desert coral
—all juxtapositions endemic to desert.
—along for the ride, stuck on my boot.
Cactus forests. Riding along on boots, socks, human skin, or animal fur. Common in much of the Sonoran Desert.
A regalia of branches. A spectacle of arms. Though many will swear to the contrary, a jumping cholla doesn’t really jump. (Neither does a porcupine shoot its quills.) Cartoonist Reg Manning’s 1941 paperback What Kinda Cactus Izzat? puts it this way: “It is simply a painful illusion—the thorn is quicker than the thigh.”
“Jumping Cholla” by Logan Phillips 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.