Sunday, October 2, 2011

Night Blooming Cereus, The Cure for What Ails Me

So, there was last year when so high on being the newly minted poet laureate person, I missed, not once, but twice, the famed Night Blooming cereus. It blooms one night and has loving nicknames like Queen of the Night. I wrote a poem featuring it in 1991 and it got published,and I never saw it. I felt like all kinds of failure were blooming in me, the night blooming serious that I am.

So, imagine my delight when in the middle of the Post Poet Laureate partum let-down in anticipating life after these two years, imagine that I got to see my homely cactus
bloom on Wednesday of last last week, that would be 9.21.11. It was my equinox celebration and I was home alone. I woke up (wild nights wild nights, Ms. Dickinson said) to check on it at 9:30 and there it was. The cereus. Imagine Hawaii, imagine about 8 inches across and a hundred stamen filled with pollen like an audience at opera. It reminded me of the Santa Fe Opera, which by the way I didn't get to, but here it was all the little spectators with their yellow pollen hair just wanting to applaud the flower they found themselves inside. Just like the opera, I think the architect must have seen this flower. Life is like that for me, it comes to me, like truth, and I don't even have to leave home, and buy standing room tickets, I just have to look around the Rancho.

Then there was this star shape at the end of a long tube which I think was the maiden, the Stigma or the stamen or something, and it all smelled like you just walked in on a rain forest during the mating season. I called Michael at the Rio Chama, Gurule's birthday, and told him to come see it.

The next morning it was still mostly open and the audience was still in fine form looking a bit tired of holding all that pollen and by breakfast it closed. It was open for twelve hours. I was so happy. It almost got me out of my post-partum of poet laureate, which by the way ends next June but I am rehearsing how I will feel when the gig is over, but I felt sad that we didn't get to share it with anybody. At 9:30 I don't know who to call except Michael. But here's the thing of it, as Eloise would say at the Plaza Hotel, there were still three blooms in waiting. You can't really tell when they will open, they look like a dry jellyfish, sort of pink tentacles and sort of like they might sting.

The next night, Thursday, we took some of the family out for dinner at Atrisco's and when we came home rushed to see the blooms. It was about 8:00 and the blossoms looked possible but not definitive.

I started calling a few neighbors, just in case, and said they Might bloom. Every ten minutes the blooms looked a bit more positive and by 9:00 they were opening and we called around the hood. Mike brought the plant in from the greenhouse where it lives above the shower, and made a little shrine for it. Myngo came up with his camera, and then Hope and Leland with camera and flashlight. Then Tom Passin happened to call, so we invited him and called Terry Gates and then Rick and Dené and what with the nine viewers and the three flowers there were twelve of us.

These three blossoms were equally amazing, there was much kneeling before them to get a close look, and exclaiming. Nobody had ever heard of them except me, since I wrote about them in that poem. I made mint tea with fresh mint I cut by flashlight, and I wasn't alone. I felt like a real poet again, and am convinced this is a cure for depression. I know it isn't all about me, but I sort of felt like the opera came here, it wasn't a comedy or a tragedy, it was a quiet neighborhood viewing like Japan's cherry trees. It was the solstice and I got it right for once in my perfecting life. The plant sat on its little table and the smell was something over the top and by morning, all three blooms were like helium balloons after the gas has leaked and they get shrivelly. The party was over, but the party happened.

I don't know what
was more rare - the flowers blooming
or my neighbors' faces


  1. Oh I love this! One day we'll meet and share our night-blooming-cereus stories. Mine includes my Grandmother and Jesus (no shit! In the flesh! Well, so she said.) Yours is wonderful. Looking forward to more.

  2. This was such a profound writing. Am grateful for having read it. "Like Japanese cherry trees..." Beautiful.


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