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A poem by Staff Writer Melissa Nunez


Blood-bright stars blanketed by leaves of deep velvet

green. Fans of fire on verdant waves, at once familiar

and desconocidos, renewed by knowledge of cherry-ripe

bracts parading petal blooms. Crimson constellations guide

to bijou buds, golden goblets flocked by marquises: emerald

pedestaling ruby. Thorax of flame skimmer. Tear-shaped pulp

of citrus sangrante. Pregnant space—corner to corner—between

lips parted. Earthshine surface of waxing crescent.


Potted poinsettias set out in red ocean rows, parted

at storefront doors. Purchase promised by the season,

by tradition, by online advertisement price. Intended table-top

decoration, but on pickup your prominent presence, nearly

hip-height, secured your position as front-entrance greeting.


Flor de nochebuena not noticing holiday shift—negada

but still floreciendo. Watering dwindles and the soil dries

out, petals and leaves like curled and blackened skin divorced

from mesquite-husk stems. But then the rain remembers

and revival. Limbs and leaves enverdecen; vivid and varied

lanceolates grow wider and longer—inhaling óvalo deep.


Cuetlaxochitl in summer is survivor, my longest living

plant, surpassing even succulents that I shower with too much

affection or take too far the inattention required for dry spells. Roots

rot and waxy nubs snap—detach—and I am left with crisp skeleton.

We can speak of hardiness, discuss drought tolerance, some resistance

to stress. We can mention the temperate climate of this growth zone

and all manner of cultivation. But I want to say I feel a kinship between

us, raíces not quite set in native soil. Close but not complete, like your name,

not your own but adapted to your new world. Bred and bound to blister-birth,

blooms abundant, branches burdened más y más—beyond natural bearance.


Each time I step out onto the brim of open-air earth—you and I—we mingle.


Melissa Nunez is an avid reader, writer and homeschooling mother of three. She lives in the Rio Grande Valley region of South Texas—a predominantly Latin@ community. She writes both essays and poetry inspired by observation of the natural world, the dynamics of relationships, and the question of belonging. Her work has been featured in FOLIO, Yellow Arrow Journal, and others.

Image by sadid from Pixabay.

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