I Kissed My Cactus Today

September 12, 2016
She came home with me
in a taxi
so many years ago
twelve, at least
maybe more
I can still remember
sitting with her
gingerly on my lap
After all
she’s a cactus
Just a toddler
at the time
two feet tall or so
It was love at first sight
when I spotted her
in the Flower District
in Manhattan
For over a decade
she was a NYC cactus
Sitting in the corner
of my light-filled loft
she grew
and she grew
and she grew
I stopped buying a Christmas tree
and instead adorned
my beloved cactus
with twinkle lights
and ornaments
some new
and some old
Like the angel
(or is it a fairy?)
with a petite glass head
and a dress that always
reminds me of Cinderella
She used to sit in a cloud
of spun glass
that looked like cotton candy
on our mantle
when I was a little girl
And the old
Santa Claus ornament
so fragile
it has to be
over 100 years old now
It belonged to my mother
When I was little
I was terrified of Santa
and this ornament still
reminds me of that fear
My cactus wears these
memories on her arms
for me
every holiday season
I almost lost her once
She had spots all over
and looked really sad
My friend and I
gently lifted her out of her pot
and put her in the shower
It looked like a crime scene
no kidding
Fresh soil, a fresh pot,
some TLC
and she came back
to life
Two years ago
when I moved to Jersey City
I fretted about her
How would I ever get her
across the river
in one piece?
On a ridiculously hot
July day
the most wonderful
movers in the world
constructed a womb
for her
out of two refrigerator boxes
As if they were carrying a newborn
they loaded her onto the truck
last, but not least
When they unpacked her
I could see their dismay
that one of her arms had fallen off
But she was mostly intact
and now her baby grows
alongside her
I kissed my cactus today
She’s over eight feet tall now
I kissed her because even though
she no longer has big sunny windows
and bright sunshine to
remind her of the desert
Even though a lot of her plant friends
have ended up in the compost
or have been adopted
because they couldn’t thrive
without the light
in our new home
she still stands tall
and sends out new growth
the color of spring grass
She knows I long for more Nature
It’s hurting my soul
this longing for more Green
I kissed my cactus today
because she’s sticking by me
through thick and thin
until maybe one day
we’ll escape the city together
I’ve promised her the sunniest of windows
maybe even a screened-in porch
Wouldn’t that be lovely?
We could sit together and listen
to the birds
and the crickets
I’ll still adorn her at Christmas
With twinkle lights and
antique ornaments
She will always have a
place in my home
No longer the toddler
She’s the queen now
Cactus adorned with Christmas ornaments. Photo by Barbara Sinclair.

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