The Cactuses – Herbert Witheford
It is the orange flower on dark-flushed stem
Or the small spines to guard the so sleek flesh,
Amid dry sand and stone,
That waken an almost malicious love
For the mild cunning of the old creation.
Unblurred by virtue’s or by sin’s delusion
Out of the inert debris of disaster
It rose among the thinning atmosphere.
We cannot emulate. But, as across the aeons
Our later sense accost these presences,
A sting of freshness funs from skull to heel
And, on the palate, sparkling waters fleet.
O'Sullivan, V. (Ed.). (1979). An anthology of twentieth century New Zealand poetry. Wellington: Oxford University Press.