The cacti

I remember the cacti
in the porch at the party,
swollen, mould-coloured fingers
immolated with spines: the story of
Saint Sebastian translated into
Martian. I stared at the point of one needle
as he told me there was nothing going on
between him and that girl,
but perhaps we should stop seeing each other,
anyway. It was time.

Later that night, when I glimpsed him
kissing her in the porch,
I knew that, like a cactus, love
has evolved to survive the harshest climates.
You can stop watering it,
hope it will die,
but still there is its gormless, fleshy, martyr’s face,
an unwanted guest refusing to go home.

Melanie Branton