Agave (2012)

PhotoBy Chris Deem (April 2012)

When a star like our sun has used up its supply of hydrogen, its core will begin to shrink. Now powered by the nuclear reaction of helium as it slowly dies, it will for a while become a majestic sun, a red giant.

Tonight, an agave and a scorpion continue on separate journeys through time. On this, its last night of life, sharp spines still encircle an inflorescence of wilted yellow flowers on the cactus. It is a last vigil towards an uncertain future the agave will not live to see.

A gray female scorpion stands below one of the dying agave’s leaves. She, too, stands a vigil to protect the tiny scorpions she carries on her back. Tomorrow the agave will finally die, and the scorpion will see her young molt and quickly flee. The young scorpions somehow know if they remain they might become her prey.

Still, tonight is a hot and quiet night. Far above in the black southern sky, a lone red star can faintly be seen in the constellation of the Scorpion.

The majority of Agave species are found in Mexico. However, several interesting species are found in Arizona and New Mexico. All species of agaves of which I am aware flower only once at the end of their life cycles.

My story is of a life at its end. Its end is majestic and sad as the cactus slowly dies, leaving only offsets and seeds on a journey through time.