Echinopsis (2015)

PhotoBy Chris Deem (November 2015)

She stood alone, in a high place, as the dark and white feathers of her ceremonial robe were lifted by a northerly wind. Behind her, the unquiet mountains seemed subdued, eclipsed by her presence. She stood there resplendent, like a fire-rock aglow. She stood there as if she would stand there forever, under a gray sky in a wilderness of stone.

She was the human incarnation of a bird called the rhea. Her dark eyes seemed hard as andesite stone. What were her thoughts at that moment, I pondered. Although I knew, as I looked, I never would know.

Like the rhea, she stood there proud and unbroken, in a faraway wilderness of unquiet stone. I hope she will always dwell in my memory. She was a young woman and something more. She was the human incarnation of a bird called the rhea, alone with her thoughts in a wilderness of stone.

I saw this young woman in an article called “Argentine Identities,” written by Marco Vernaschi. In this article was another picture. In this picture, there stood a massive Trichocereus tarijensis. At least, that is what it was once called. Now, some “experts” say it is only an Echinopsis. What can I say about the seemingly ever-expanding genus of Echinopsis?

Bewilderment is the only word I can come up with. Trichocereus tarijensis is a tall, majestic species. It is found in the unforgiving wilderness of southern Bolivia and also in the northernmost part of Argentina.

So, the experts say that a trichocereus is really an echinopsis. Perhaps that is true, I don’t really know.

Still, I saw a young woman once. May she dwell in my memory. She was a young woman, and like the “echinopsis” in that article, she seemed something more.