Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer served as the third Colorado Western Slope Poet Laureate (2015-2017), co-hosts Emerging Form (a podcast on creative process), is the co-founder of Secret Agents of Change and co-directs Telluride’s Talking Gourds Poetry Club.
Her poetry has appeared in O Magazine, on A Prairie Home Companion, in Rattle.com, and on river rocks. Her most recent collection is “Naked for Tea,” a finalist for the Able Muse book award in 2018. She teaches poetry for 12-step recovery programs, hospice, mindfulness retreats, women’s retreats, scientists and more.
The following is a poem from “Naked for Tea.”
Each week, The Colorado Sun and Colorado Humanities & Center For The Book feature an excerpt from a Colorado book and an interview with the author. Explore the SunLit archives at coloradosun.com/sunlit.
Years Later, I Remember What He Taught Us
The guide stabbed the small round of cactus with his knife,
then held it up in front of him. With his other hand,
he flicked on his lighter and burned off the spines.
I do not remember the smell of it, nor how much it smoked.
What I remember is how he was left with a smooth and harmless
lump of green in his palm. He sliced it opened and taught us to drink.
It could save you, he said, if you find yourself lost in the desert.
Do this. Burn off your spines. Whatever bristles you have grown
to protect yourself, set them aflame. Open however you can,
let me pull you to my lips. I will do the same for you.
We are all lost in the desert.