Saguaro are the typical, tall cactus, you know. Green and slim, with the whimsical arms. When they die, they leave their skeletons in place. Clusters of long vascular tubes stand in place while the vegetable matter sloughs away, like a loose suit of clothes.
Following my last post, a couple of my faithful readers wrote to ask what the hell a “wickerman” is. I got too carried away with the poetics to provide the full context. A good lesson for me. On so many levels. That, and that El Patron margaritas don’t make you nearly so profound as you think. I was tempted to go back and revise, but in the interests of preserving the record, I’ll leave it be and try again.
With another shot of the saguaro wickerman. RoseMarie got it with her comment before — it’s about looking for God. Or maybe just for design, intelligent or otherwise. The pre-Christian Celts built giant figures made of straw and sticks. Essentially huge baskets. Sometimes in the shape of animals, sometimes in the shape of humans. Often these “wickermen” were filled with animals or people and then burned. Sacrifice to the unknown designers.
As the saguaro’s watery flesh dries up and blows away, the wickerman of the desert remains. Sacrifice in reverse. Perhaps that’s what we all end up doing in our lives, using up the flesh in living, leaving a network of bones behind.
Somehow the desert brings this into sharp contrast. Maybe the desert just shows the process at an accelerated pace, visible to the pedantic eye. All of the snowbirds flock to the desert sun, to warm their aging bones, as if to the elephants’ graveyard.
My desert wickerman seemed to stand sentinel to that.
The commonalities of design are obvious. While the bones of other mammals litter the desert in scattered designs, these bones remain upright for a time, eerily holding the shape of the creatures the saguaro once were. Their skeletons are tubes that carried and stored water. Then incidentally provided structure. The white bones of animals echo the same structure, now equally waterless, dry as the empty arroyos.
The lush groves of prickly pear leave nothing so dramatic. Their corpses are nothing more than collapsed balloons, dessicated amoebae awaiting the return of the inland oceans.
Wickerman waves good-bye.