by Jane St. Clair
When I first moved out West, it was so hot and dry that I thought they needed a few good shade trees. You know, “the under the spreading chestnut tree where the Village Smithy stands-kind-of tree,” and the “I think that I shall never see a poem as-lovely-as-a-tree” kind of tree.
Instead they had the saguaro, which did not even look like a tree to me. They certainly don’t do much in the shade department.
After a while, I began to respect them, even though I didn’t like them.
You have to respect them because they are so heavy they can crush a car, and because they live in the hot desert without water. You have to respect saguaros because it takes so long to get one. They start out as babies as big as your thumb, and it takes about 100 years to get one arm, and more to get a bunch of arms.
Some people think they look like candlestick holders.
They are home to birds and all kinds of bugs and little wildlife things.They have dorky flowers that turn into little fruits. The natives know how to make food out of that. People here decorate them at Christmas,
After a while, saguaros looked tall and stately to me. Dignified. Vertical. And even noble.
Saguaros can look human, especially if you’ve been cowboying alone in the desert too long.
And I liked the way they looked in different kinds of skies,
(even the skies I make up).
The desert had become home.