For one night only the cacti raise their heads
as flowers. The blooms are as round and white
and mottled as the moon; they open their own
pillowy craters abundant with melon-fragranced
pollen that cradle the heads of bats perfectly.
The next afternoon brings closure, flowers
folding in but nectar lingering for the daytime
visitors, honey bees and hummingbirds,
orioles, finches, flickers, white-winged doves,
the cacti growing so tall that even large hawks
can perch, roost, and nest, as do certain
owls that find the cavities welcome. I believe
everything is succulent, the cacti, the nectar,
the tongues of the bats, their long noses, the night air,
all bestowing gifts, all receptive, the fruit later
ripening enough that winged things consume
the red flesh rich with what can be thousands
of seeds then spread the news for miles, bats
shedding pollen and seeds, birds scattering
their droppings as they fly, messengers
of sweetness, reminders of fresh stories,
endings, middles, beginnings, over and over
these miraculous germinations.

By Elinor Ann Walker

Elinor Ann Walker holds a Ph.D. in English from UNC-Chapel Hill and teaches online for University of Maryland Global Campus. Her poems have appeared pre-digitally in Poet Lore and Rosebud and more recently in such journals as Mezzo Cammin; Halfway Down the Stairs; Non-Binary Review, Flash Glass, and First Things.