He closed the door
breathed in all the humid smells
peat and compost, rivulets.
He tiptoed to the nursery box
peered through misty glass
backed away clutching his hands,
squeezed out the truth he dared not see
then turned toward the cacti
bright and succulent
thick and full, a sturdy stem
a tongue-shaped leaf, the prickly pear
He hastened to the flower heads
perfect mauves and star-shaped stamens
diamond petals interlocked in
planned contrived perfection,
like his happiness.
He cultivated happiness with clear defined parameters
scrubbed pots and vases test-tube size
smiling at the seedling dahlias
the sureness of their future
the perfect pom-pom heads
the promised blush of pointed petals
the small yellow irises
the yellow of her eyes.
He stood on tiptoes, carefully,
felt the rays of sunlight sweep across his scalp
smooth and rounded baldness, polished to perfection
But his Queen-of-the-Night with its three-angled stem and wavy wings
remains untouched in the starlit night
under his shiny prison.
Leaves borne on the wing in a caged glass dome
good for nightly inspection,
perfect beyond all human touch.
He crept in when the moon was covered
shone his torch on her flawless shape
perused the growth, her form ripening
mature now, spines arriving,
pin-points poking through.
He shivered, waited quietly for morning
wiped away the sweat beads on his brow
clasped tight his hands while
the little pots stood waiting
row on row of seedlings, eager to grow up.
He ran his hand across his scalp
felt the prickles coming through,
turned to see her shadow form
black across the room.