Originally published in Mojave Heart Review (March 2019)
Through a valley forest, bushy drooping junipers alongside taller Arizona pines. In between, a small black bear forages. Must be looking for the sweet, deep-purple fruit that top the prickly pears when ripened. Tall stalks of lechuguillas are watchtowers for Colima warblers. Even taller are the blue agave blooms. Their sparseness in this valley make them immediately known. They look prehistoric: little bristle pad branches floating on thin twigs around a meaty trunk. Their
bloom, a silent death rattle. The swan song of a monocarpic life. A final show of a life spent in one place. Impossible not to notice. I know soon the stalks will bend at the hip, and the bloom will touch the ground for the first time. The last time. The show is over, time to lie down, they’ll say. But the small black bear will walk by the same as it always did.