Friday, February 10, 2006

Cactus flowers

Seven --
or was it
this time --
years between?

Pale magenta
and butter
cactus flowers
burst out from
bright southern sides
of strangely green hills
so rare an occurance
in this cyclical desert
that my sun narrowed eyes
disbelieve at first sight
my dry-acclimatised senses
trying to filter away
their anomalous hues
as outrageous illusion
trying to repaint
this small corner
of the Palliser Triangle
its habitual dusty khaki.

But I know to stop dead
after the first double take
stand still
drink in colour
and hoard it
in memory
knowing that
in three days
it will be gone
withered and blown
by the dry west wind.


Anonymous said...

I'll bite: where's the Palliser Triangle?

coyote said...

Good question, Nonny! The Canadian Encyclopedia describes it this way:

"When Captain John Palliser first reached the prairies he may have thought he had lost his way and discovered Hell, for what he found was a forbidding and arid region. He launched an expedition from 1857-60, sponsored by the Royal Geographical Society, to study the plains' agricultural potential. The area, which became known as Palliser's Triangle, is north of the American border, bounded by Cartwright, Man., Lloydminster, Sask., and Calgary and Cardston, Alta. Palliser reported an area ill-suited for civilization, a region of short grasses and shrubs and desert-like conditions where cacti grew along the coulee ridge."

Anonymous said...

I should be ashamed of myself for not knowing that. I love the descriptions..."ill-suited for civilization," and "forbidding." Yep, that's it alright. There's actually a full-fledged desert in Manitoba, called the Carbury Desert (I think!?), not that far from Winnipeg. You drive through typical prairie stuff to get to it: wheat fields, cute farmhouses and moo-cows grazing, only to emerge in what could be the middle of the Sahara. It's amazing...nothing but sand dunes as far as the eye can see...