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Marco Wilkinson teaches writing and sustainable agriculture at Lorain County Community College and Oberlin College. His work has appeared in Kenyon Review, Seneca Review, DIAGRAM, Bennington Review, Terrain, and elsewhere.
We checked everyday on its progress, because it was only supposed to last one night. The oddly visceral pink neck craned out just a little longer each day as the bloom swelled to monstrous proportions. We didn't want to miss it. Nestled among the other succulents and cacti parked for the summer in the gravel driveway, it was admittedly gangly and awkward, but this undeniable tumescent organ it was generating made it irresistibly alluring. I'll admit I touched and stroked its gathering length, pressed with my thumb and forefinger the bulbous end to test the pressure inside. A week and more went by and it daily proved us wrong when we thought it couldn't get bigger. And then one night, my then-newish boyfriend and I went to inspect yet again and found the Night-Blooming Cereus in full bloom. The white bud had burst into a trumpet mouth pouring out its heady perfumed music on a blizzard of golden pollen notes. What else could we do there in the humid night under the stars, drowning in the Cereus' panting breath, dreaming of bats plunging greedily into that hole for the nectar buried deep down and inadvertently with their furry chests pollinating each successive flower after the first — what could we do but collapse onto the gravel, urging each other to seed?