From my experience, I recommend
eating them with your imagination.Do not, while walking the trail alone,
succumb to the allure
of the ripe fallen fruitgathered in a fertile mound
at the foot of the cactus.Do not, in childlike innocence,
bend down and pick up the reddest fruit
with the seemingly smooth skin.
Do not peel the skin back with your thumbs.
Do not raise the fruit to your nose
and inhale it’s exotic tropical fragrance.
Do not plunge your index finger and thumb
into the juicy golden flesh and extract
a shimmering morsel of sweetness.
Do not place the shimmering morsel of sweetness
in your mouth and swish it around
like newly poured wine.
If you do not do these things,
you will not find your tongue and palette
studded like a bed of nails
with countless microscopic cactus quills.
You will not find yourself spending the rest
of your hike around Paradise Mountain
plucking and spitting like a man with
a mouthful of loose tobacco.
You will not find yourself
distracted from the moment
and the glories of the hike
by composing in your head
a poem about how to eat cactus apples,
hoping you won’t forget your best ideas
before you get home and put them all on paper.