Oct 14
poem challenge: Objects
Pushkin's picture

Cactus on the Windowsill

There is a cactus on the windowsill

In a room

In a house

In the suburbs of a city,

A city that’s sleeping well tonight.

But I am awake.

I live in this house.

I sleep in this room.

And there is a cactus on the windowsill.

There has been for some time now.

Touch it, and you’ll get a sting in your finger,

Quite similar to the prick of a sewing needle,

As the surface is covered in dozens of glochidia. It hurts,

But not too badly.

How amazing is it,

That so many thousands of years of evolution

Have arrived at this,

This miracle of nature 

That somehow learned to defend itself.

And now it sits on my windowsill.

I haven’t watered it in weeks.

I’m told cactuses don’t need that much water

(is it cactuses or cacti? I never bothered to learn the difference).

I bought it off a shelf at a Swedish furniture store

Called “IKEA” (you’ve probably heard of it).

They were selling plants. Most of them were fake.

Not this one.

This was a real cactus, 

They told me.

But I wonder.

If a cactus is taken out of the desert

And made to sit on a windowsill;

If it is not grown from the ground,

But a pot full of dirt;

If the only light it gets 

Is filtered through a glass


At what point does it cease

To be a cactus?

In any case, 

It’s on my windowsill now.

I’m staring at it.

Staring at the smooth intricacy of its olive-green surface.

Staring at the fine barbs on each glochidium.

Staring at the magnificent crimson flower

Protruding from the top.

I think this cactus

Might be the center of the universe.
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