By Melinda Smith


You and I enter by the Barrel Cactus, and stand

too close to each other at the bar. Two beers,

some conversation, some digs at the flight

we have just endured — we can do this, we have


an air-traffic-controller’s view of pink afternoon clouds,

of the Siamese Sago Palm, the Indian Spurge, the Moses

-in-the-Cradle. Labels state their origins and habits.

Being ROOFTOP and OPEN AIR, smokers also grow here,


and giant umbrellas, taut and beige, and sunburned ladies,

with equally taut foreheads, who are painting their nails.

There are no labels for their origins or habits. We search

for an explanation of the foot-long spikes atop the umbrellas.


We agree some mysteries will have to remain here, when we

board our onward flights. The Ponytail Tree makes us laugh

a little too much. There are frangipani over by the wall,

the blossoms shading from palest shell-pink, through hussy-pink,


to insistent purple. We cross the courtyard to admire them,

continue on the shaded path, past Moss Rose, Desert Rose,

Carpet Rose. Dragonflies, in tiny holding patterns, take

the sunset’s blush. We stop behind the Rose Cactus. You move


closer. I notice the Devil’s Tongue. And the Devil’s Bone. You press

me against you. You are blocking my air-traffic controller’s view.

I see chest, and sideburns, and feel the sting in my nostrils

of the clashing designer perfumes we have been spraying on each other


in the Duty Free. There are many labels for this, most of them

too flattering. I dash late to my boarding call, refusing to friend you

on Facebook. On the way out of course I see the Burn Plant.

The Bayonet Plant, the Crown of Thorns. Last of all, too late, I spot


the sign: a black and white cartoon, a red slashed circle, the words




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