And if you are a woman
you learn early,
how to draw yourself in,
and survive on very little water,
in fact, a few drops
of dew will do.
Careful about smiles
pulling them indoors
if they happen to escape in the rain
like errant children
to dance, to soak,
aimless paper boats.
Wearing a wax-coated thick skin
is best, nothing seeps in,
no branches, no stems,
only a cluster of spiny areoles
for leaves, naturally they do not crave
the caress of the wind.
Like arid, bottled, dried-out water color paints
you have forgotten what color feels like
on your verdant body.
But sometimes when you break
all conventions, break open the lid
and jump out of your skin,
it is shocking how you spill out,
defiant in the most unlikely places,
even among the thorns
like a yellow flower.
First published in the anthology titled Mosaic (Unisun)