I thought this was an interesting prompt that my MFA class did last semester. (prose poetry, Eve Jones)
See what you can come up with. My response is below.
Write a piece about a specific kind of plant. Find one with an interesting defensive system, or that grows somewhere special. Research it. Then take three or so of those details that can be described in a simile for a human.
The Prickly Pear
Prickly pears are often flat, rounded and armed with two kinds of spines. One kind of spine is large, smooth and fixed and the other is small, tiny prickles that penetrate the skin and detach from the cactus. These prickly pears can grow into dense and tangled plants. Although prickly pears are native to the Americas they have been introduced to countries all over the world including the Mediterranean areas, Israel and Australia. They are cold tolerant and love arid areas such as deserts but they do grow in Florida. There are numerous species of prickly pears, six of which are found in the Galapagos Islands.
In Australia, they became such a nuisance (in Queensland) that an insect was introduced to kill the species. This is now cited as an example of biological pest control. In the meantime, English settlers in New South Wales experimented with the prickly pear to make a heady brew to help keep the insidious cactus controlled. Tim Low states on page 58 of Bush Medicine, that in 1925, an Australian doctor claimed a “decoction of prickly pear (Opuntia stricta) leaf pads ‘definitely cured about twenty diabetics…The mixture is unpleasant and slimy to take…There is not the slightest doubt about its value.’”
In Israel, the original Jewish settlers of the 1930’s and ‘40’s were labeled “sabras” which was the name given to the prickly pears that grow wild in Israel. It is a greenish, wine-red or orange-yellow fruit with a soft and sweet center and is used in salads and as a fruit to eat straight off the plate or juiced. The prickles are peeled off with the skin. It is one of my favorite fruits.
Sources cited or researched:
Clarke, Philip. Aboriginal People and Their Plants. Dural, N.S.W.: Rosenberg, 2007. 58,202. Print.
Low, Tim. Bush Medicine: A Pharmacopoeia of Natural Remedies. North Ryde, N.S.W., Australia: Angus & Robertson, 1990. Print.
“Opuntia.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 05 May 2015.
Three characteristics that can also apply to humans. Of course, I couldn’t stop myself at three:
Sweet on the inside
Holds onto water, bloated
Round and plump
A prose poem simile for humans and prickly pears by kaye
My mother’s barbs penetrate my skin with a string of prickly epithets. Like a solar flare she invades the atmosphere of my world, breeding her contemptuous network of seeds and prickles until they puncture my space. Like a woman scorned, she shrinks when I mock her harsh Germanic roots, when I bite into her with my toothy words, and soon she opens up with effusive gestures like hidden honey from a beehive, pouring out her sweet pulp in apology and “don’t be silly” phrases. But not until I dismantle her boundaries of bloated morality, does she surrender her soft side, the angry mother finally yielding to her daughter.
As I walk away, I wonder which of us is really the prickly pear?