Catalina Barroso-Luque

Saguaro Man (2020)

You send me a photograph of yourself standing against a solid grey formation, a saguaro that appears to be also a chapel. Concrete flora. A road-side altar. Everything is blotchily painted white. The pigment has the chalky texture of sand added into the cement mix. The grittiness echoes the location. Silver beads form into a chain of rusted wire that threads over the stony cactus, silk whitewashed roses and canary flowers dirtied by the desert traffic adorn this metal wreath, the garland weaving itself upwards towards a gleaming white cross. On the ground an array of candles pays vigil to Our Lady of Guadalupe. She appears at an angle. Pinned onto a sticker. Pasted onto a veladora candle. I inspect the picture’s minutia. Empty water bottles are scattered to the left. Trash is coated in soot. A pile of translucent grey plastic. A pair of scratched white sneakers pressing down onto the blades of grass that grow round the weathered monument. My gaze takes a diversion. I avoid your image. Eyes traveling upwards onto an Yves-Klein sky that envelops a horizon of dry thorny bramble, cerulean threatening to swallow both real and fake saguaros. You are the handsome brown bachelor reclining against the grubby concrete; Narcissus in his early thirties posing for a picture. Black shorts. Black Ray-Bans. Caramel T-shirt. Tan arms folded over chest. Left leg casually crossed over right. Face staring directly at the camera with a cool confidence and the assurance of having my attention. I am taken aback by the arrogance of the posture. You are the spitting image of my desires—for a man, a country, an identity to return and belong to, which once obtained will only leave me wanting. Deflated.

About this work

Saguaro Man is a piece of prose poetry inspired by a lover’s photograph in the desert. Something about desire, and not precisely for him.

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