Landscaping at the Pheonix Airport

Ann Howells

Men rake and dig, plant sotol, ocotillo, cholla,
organ pipe, and prickly pear. I watch them
from the shuttle.

I'm late, and a wheel has fallen from my suitcase.
Dry stone walls cocoon in rabbit wire,
and saguaros stand

supported by wooden tripods, protected
against mishap – bump from heavy machinery.
Saguaros must reach

fifty years before sprouting stubby arms.
They are sturdy, resilient with spines
and tough hide,

but each of us is vulnerable in some manner.
Airport saguaros are venerable old men. Some –
called crested –

wear crowns that are really malformed arms
patterned in swirls, appearing ornate. When I
reach their age,

perhaps I too will grow a crown, be named queen.
Bearers will tote my broken luggage, pilots
hold the plane.


About the Author

Ann Howells edited Illya’s Honey for eighteen years. Her most recent books are: So Long As We Speak Their Names (Kelsay Books, 2019) and Painting the Pinwheel Sky (Assure Press, 2020). Chapbooks include Black Crow in Flight, as Editor’s Choice in Main Street Rag’s 2007 competition and Softly Beating Wings, 2017 William D. Barney Chapbook Competition winner (Blackbead Books). Her work appears in many small press and university publications, including PlainsongsI-70 Review, and San Pedro River Review.