Cactus Seed

A poem by Lola Ridge

Radiant notes
piercing my narrow-chested room,
beating down through my ceiling -
smeared with unshapen
belly-prints of dreams
drifted out of old smokes -
trillions of icily
peltering notes
out of just one canary,
all grown to song
as a plant to its stalk,
from too long craning at a sky-light
and a square of second-hand blue.

Silvery-strident throat -
so assiduously serenading my brain,
flinching under
the glittering hail of your notes -
were you not safe behind... rats know what thickness of... plastered wall...
I might fathom
your golden delirium
with throttle of finger and thumb
shutting valve of bright song.


But if... away off... on a fork of grassed earth
socketing an inlet reach of blue water...
if canaries (do they sing out of cages?)
flung such luminous notes,
they would sink in the spirit...
lie germinal...
housed in the soul as a seed in the earth...
to break forth at spring with the crocuses into young smiles
on the mouth.
Or glancing off buoyantly,
radiate notes in one key
with the sparkle of rain-drops
on the petal of a cactus flower
focusing the just-out sun.

Cactus... why cactus?
God... God...
somewhere... away off...
cactus flowers, star-yellow
ray out of spiked green,
and empties of sky
roll you over and over
like a mother her baby in long grass.
And only the wind scandal-mongers with gum trees,
pricking multiple leaves
at his amazing story.

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