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Border Codes

Mark Marino, Author
poetry, page 1 of 9
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Poem 1 -- Barrel Cactus

The desert is an ecosystem with a logic of sustainability, of orientation, unique unto itself. For example, if the barrel cactus—known otherwise as the compass cactus—stockpiles moisture; it also affords direction. As clear as an arrow or a constellation, it leans south. Orient yourself by this mainstay or by flowering desert plants that, growing toward the sun, face south in the Northern Hemisphere
-- Amy Sara Carroll

Carroll's poems combine advice, instructions, embedded with rich cultural allusions.  Even when they seem to offer tips, for example, on how to use a cactus for water and direction, the imagery blooms like a desert garden.  The cactus becomes a compass, its water cache a stockpile, its direction an affordance -- each image reframing the environment in relation to the tool and the struggle for survival.   The last phrase describes the plant oriented opposite the movements of the migrant, though perhaps matching the orientation of the border crosser's thoughts and sentiments.
This page annotates: at line 277 - 279
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