Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Saturday, October 20, 2012

October 20: Song to the Saguaro Cactus


(pronounced sah-wha-ro)

We
hike in
Sabino
Canyon to see
the great, green Saguaro standing as guards,
in the thousands along the valleys in this
canyon, each one
unique, grave,
silent,
still.
The Tohono O’Odham call these persons,
and so they are, arrayed in arroyos
as sentinels,
their slow-growing
spiny
arms
well pocked with nests for cactus wrens or owls.
Ah, Saguaro, you live longer than the
people, whose years
are measured
against
the
flowering and the fruiting, the hungry
times, the longest nights, the coldest, short days.
The people come
to make wine
from your
fruits,
to give thanks in the proper season and
to dance safe, under your sheltering arms. 


Octpowrimo's prompt today was to take an old poem and play with a new form. I chose this poem, written in January 2011, after a stay near Tucson, immersed in desert culture, because the order and harmony of the form made me think of the order and harmony found in Native American beliefs and nature itself.

The poetic form (found on Shadow Poetry) is a Tetractys. In its shortest forms, syllables for each line  must measure 1, then 2, 3, 4, then 10. Here, the form is extended: 1,2,3,4, 10, 10, 4, 3, 2, 1, and repeated again. Somehow the lines on the page remind me of the arms of the Great Saguaro, the name itself a poem.

Read more about the Tohono O'Odham HERE, the earlier version of this poem HERE, and what others participating in Octpowrimo (a poem every day in the month of October) have written HERE.