Mirabilis bigelovii


Lisa Cole



Wishbone bush is a sprawling perennial of rocky slopes. It blooms in Spring and sometimes again in Fall.


It wasn’t supposed to happen like this:


                                      I feel water on the edge of things. And then—water everywhere—


nothing new can bloom.


Born in pairs the triangular or heart-shaped leaves are rather large and soft for the desert, so the plants generally do best when growing in the shade of shrubs or overhanging boulders.


The animal in you wants the animal in me—so


                             sing the song of the common sparrow.


                                                   Pull the coiled rope. Pull the night. Pull the road—Protect me.


                                                                                        Do not wilt me.


Even then, wishbone bush is apt to wilt on hot days and to lose its leaves during long dry spells.


My heart closes—a fist,


                                  a dried petal. For once, it is smaller than water.


Staked glands, barely visible to the naked eye, make the leaves and stems feel tacky or even clammy to the touch. The white or pale pink flowers open late in the afternoon.


                                  Know that my wing cannot hinder (y)our unfolding:


Flowers typically comprise a certain number of petals set inside a certain number of sepals. The petals, taken collectively are the corolla; similarly the sepals are calyx.


Look on this land with eyes like tiny planets.


Harness this ink—lady day;


                        lady bird;


                                             lady of the desert.


We think of petals as being brightly colored, sepals as being green. Wishbone bush, along with several other members of the 4’O’ Clock Family flouts this convention.


Now—make a wish.


Because the funnel shaped flowers of the wishbone bush are actually fused sepals, each flower is a calyx. Despite appearances to the contrary, wishbone bush has no petals, and therefore no corolla.


And still—


                               the darkness will take what it takes. The darkness has no family. The

darkness has no water. The darkness does not bloom.






Lisa M. Cole, graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing at the University of Arizona, is the author of two chapbooks, Tinder//Heart and The Bodyscape, both forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press. "Wishbone Bush" also appears, in a slightly altered form, in Tinder//Heart.

*Italicized portions taken from Flowers and Shrubs of the Mojave Desert by Janice Emily Bowers