There Are No Cactuses Here

 I am a water lily in an environment made for cacti,

The atmosphere too hot and arid to really let me thrive,

The soil too shallow and lacking in nutrients,

It is clear I don’t fit in,

But when I look around me to see

Who is constructing this ambience in which only the driest, most superficial plants can flourish,

I am startled to find myself surrounded

By orchids, roses, lilies, and daffodils,

Many beautiful and unique specimens of existence that also were not made for this environment


Some can make do better than others,

With a few watering cans and some irrigation,

Some can even get along comfortably,

And yet none of them were truly made for this environment,

And I wonder why, when we have the power to change the soil,

We do not


I can only think that those who get along well enough here

Look at those of us who are withering and wilting and fading away

And see how easily that could be them,

So they fear to change anything

Lest they lose the precarious stability they have fashioned for themselves

In this environment that is antithetical to their very existence


They fear to spread the water to their fellow plants

Lest there not be enough for them in the coming days,

They fear to let the soil composition change

Because the unknown nature of the new composition

May not benefit them

They fear to spread their leaves wide

To shade the smaller plants from the hammering sunshine

Lest the heat of the midday sun

Become too much to bear


And yet there are no cactuses here,

So how can they not see

That they, too, are withering and dying and fading away,

Becoming less of what they are

In an attempt to mimic the plants

For which this environment could possibly be tenable

And that their attempt to save themselves by killing us

Is also really suicide


Have they forgotten their true nature?

Do they not realize they have the power to change the environment in which we live?

Because they are not really cactuses—

Prickly and hard and cold and uncaring—

They are really mums and baby’s breath and rhododendrons,

But they had to turn off their compassion,

They had to eliminate their expression,

They had to turn inward and fade

And so now all that we see

Is a world full of uncaring cactuses

In an environment where only cacti can thrive,

When there are no cactuses here.


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