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By Kay Hammond

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You, the Cactus, America's exotic fruit. Crowning the Desert, green spires of life in hot and crumbled sand.

I, the Desert, seem invulnerable, as indeed do you. The invulnerable doesn't interest me; I want to see you break, as I can be broken. For beneath my ever-shifting surface I am vulnerable, but I am a place where you may grow.   

My sand offers little help, you must draw solace for yourself. The gamble lies in your choice, whether you'll choose to thrust thin roots into my burning sand.

I will not make it safe for you. I could deny you water, yes, let you shrivel in your thick skin. I will burn you, sting you with heat and sand, because I fear you will burn me in a much more lasting way.

The Desert is your habitat, you may thrive in me – if you forgive my temperament, if you'll forgive my fears – as I will forgive yours.  

You see, you, as Cactus, have spines that stab. If planted, your roots could rip my tenderest, my most private flesh. You think your hold precarious, but it will be as firm as stone. I know no other way.

And I know there will be pain. Why, even in your planting, your sharp spines may cut my hands. So, I, the Desert, must see first if I can damage you.   

I, the Desert, must have hold, before I give you hold on me; before I give you space for roots to clutch, nestled in tender flesh.    

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