who thought up that crazy name?
birth and the desert
a body splitting to let go its life
and a thick plant, flesh-firm
covered in needles?
ready to run you through?
stitch you up?
the real thing has, to my chagrin
no needles, just
thick, flat leaves with points
like elves' ears
the quaint suggestion of sharpness
this is a cheat
this is what we've done to Christmas
taken the sting out of it, flattened and dulled it
cleaned up the blood and water
given the birthing Virgin a shower
and a shot of Demerol
if you're going to give that name to a cactus
make it the sharpest one, the fattest
most succulent and most intent
on making holes in you
or forget it altogether
bring me an armload of holly instead
clutch it passionately against yourself
wrestle a bouquet out of its branches
until you bloody your skirts