Hunter Joslin – The Ocotillo Was No More


 


I stopped my car somewhere between the Mojave and Colorado Deserts. I crossed the double yellow line and walked toward myself. I saw a tall ocotillo cactus standing alone under a blanket of blue. 

There, holding Jacob’s staff, was an old man. He stood still and stared at the ocotillo’s red flowers. They were shaking anxiously in the wind. The old man turned to me.

“From where did the wind come,” he asked, “to where will the wind go?”


 

 


I removed my shoes and closed my eyes. I could hear nothing but stillness and the sound of silence. It was unknown to me and lasted for but a moment. I was afraid and I was alone. I was torn and I was tormented.  I lost control of myself and died.

My eyes were opened and the sun was setting and a rainbow shot forth from a tear rolling down my cheek. I saw the ocotillo’s flowers turn to roses, and when I rose they danced with me beneath the rising moon. But the voices still stirred inside.


 

 


They called my name, reminding me of my past, telling me what to do and who to be, what to think and what to dream. I closed my eyes, fighting the darkness and the pain. I could hear the Universe calling.

“Come to me, my son,” it said. “Come and find your peace.”


 

 


My heart skipped across a pond and I looked back to the other shore. The ocotillo was reaching for the sky. The rose buds burst like lightning—bright, colorful flames—and the flowers whispered secrets to the stars, in brilliant oranges, yellows, and reds.

The flames danced, their colors blending, their stories becoming one. The petals took flight and sped into darkness. I felt my heart turn cold. Where were they going?


 

 


I entered the final stage. I was in the calyx of those roses bursting in the sky. The flames leapt with my breath in brilliant blues, fading to turquoise and green. The voices inside me ceased and I opened my eyes.

I was sitting on a mountain. My memory and experience had vanished with the wind. I heard a voice echo an eternity. Jacob told me not to be afraid. I turned to the other shore and saw the ocotillo cactus was no more.


 

Artist’s Statement on Beauty

Beauty is harmony, and balance. It is in things seen and unseen, and it is always in light and freedom. You see beauty in specks of dust floating in the air, swirling around us; you see it in a falling leaf, spiraling to the ground, and in the first crocuses of spring. You feel it in the space between the stars, in your God, and in the touch of a seraphim’s wing. Beauty is in the cosmos, and in your beloved’s eye. Beauty is in the spirit dwelling amongst us, seeing us here and there, and face to face. It is the divine made manifest, glimpsed day by day. It is in everything sweet and holy; in blood, sweat, and tears; in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is within, in the recesses of our cavernous hearts, behind the boulders which we so long to dislodge and roll away. It is in that great truth which we seek, and it is in our seeking. It is in the north star. It is in everything.


 

Hunter Joslin is a creative writer and photographer. He has contributed to The Huffington Post, Elephant Journal, and GoNOMAD.com. He has edited books for Sriyogi Publications, Nalanda International, and SUNY Press. His poetry was published in the book Antonio T. de Nicolas: Poet of Eternal Return. His photographic work has been used for cover artwork and showcased in a solo exhibition, The Circuit: From Mother India to the Roof of the World. Hunter earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Georgetown University and a Master of Arts in Theology from Loyola Marymount University. Hunter currently lives in New York. More at: hunterjoslin.com and @j0slin