Despite the length of a saguaro’s lifespan, there is only one instant during the course of its life in which it is allowed to dream. This happens at a moment of extraordinary synchronicity, when each of its needles is aligned with a particular star in the skies above and below.

At this milestone’s arrival, it dreams that it knows what it is like to have senses. It learns the sound of the wind as patterns of sand that strike its body. It becomes aware of its constant, extraordinary thirst as an emptiness that shares space with the reserves of water in its belly. It even tastes the flesh of the planet through the tongues of its roots.

It dreams that its arms are made of eyes, and that the flavor of light can teach it the shape of the desert.

It uses these myriad eyes to admire its reflection in the cosmos. It draws lines between each of the stars to which it is bound, and reads the resultant glyph as its name in the secret language of cacti. It realizes that the duration of its life up until that moment has been an attempt to pronounce its own name with its body.

This language only consists of names, for it only exists at these moments of revelation. When the saguaro looks to the heavens, it doesn’t just see its own name, but the names of every saguaro that ever was, as well as those who are yet to come. Many of these constellations even share some of this saguaro’s stars. It feels their names inscribed in its pollen, and knows eternity within and without.

The stars of the ecliptic never cease in their motions, however, and the dream passes as quickly as it begins. The cactus never again knows, or feels, or thinks in any manner; even so, for the rest of its life, it continues to shout its name through the angles of its flesh.

Nonhuman dreams can be very strange indeed.

The desert is a place of many secrets.