Saturday, November 07, 2009

Thorns


Tell me, if you know,
the name of this sprawling woodland plant
with small paddle-shaped leaves,
November-red, and bright red berries.

And thorns.

Thorns seemingly too thin
and soft to be of much use
deterring browsers. What deer
would hesitate to nibble here?

And yet, this lovely plant --
whose name I do not know --
bristles menacingly, pretending
a keenly-whetted defense.

How often has natural selection
gone down this path, nature-red-
in-tooth-and-claw adopting spikes,
spines, prickles, thorns.

Thorny devil lizard.
Puffer fish.
Spiky sea urchin.
Hedgehog.
Spiny king crab.
Crown-of-thorns starfish.

Cactus.
Rose.
Honey locust.
Green briar.
Tear-thumb.
Thistle.

You and I with our
soft and silky skin
facilitating love, caresses,
the apparently un-Darwinian invitations
to intimacy. Left vulnerable by
nature's oversight we provide
our own swords, daggers, lances, spears.