Wendy Gist



1. Protect your hands with leather gloves.
2. Clamp down a spiky cladode with a tong and pretend to hurl it towards an attacker.
3. Pinch pad and pluck out a toothpick.
4. Yank out spines and create a puffer fish birthday crown.
5. Scrub seven pads clean and smooth clear of thorny danger.
6. Grab two, hold in your palms, and breaststroke like a sea turtle.
7. Take the other spike-free pads and line them up.
8. Sew all seven of the smoothed cladodes together with needle and thread.
9. Tie the chunky pads around hips and dance the hula.
10. Hang your shiny skirt on a clothesline.
11. Listen to cladodes clap: clop clop the breezy summer day.
12. Gather remaining sun-dried spines previously pulled.
13. Remove musical skirt from clothesline.
14. Place it flat on the sand like a row of seashells.
15. Glue spines into a circular design at the center of each paddle.
16. Stand back. Look! A jolly-green Concho belt.
17. Feel the pad’s spine-free edges: like a tidal wave of polished conch shells washed in from far off seas.