SALAMANDER ON THE WALL

Its permeable skin makes the spotted salamander an indicator
species of the natural condition of a habitat


From the wall the spotted salamander bolts
dark blue to blue to sky

the aged sun-dried stucco
disappears behind.

I dreamed the creature far from its vernal pool.
On its back we rose, I

and those who enter uninvited the swollen
night, who won't

ever leave.
It bolted, I clung, we hit

a ceiling, too, of wall
and fell, hard, onto algae ponds filled with tar

onto waving fields flattened
by miles of broad swaths of poured-in-place

concrete.
Or, my hold on the salamander's bright yellow spots

untenable, we hurled
parallel, each alone, into a thin shadow

landing between a playground and a sky-high wall.
A dream. Fierce landings.

On "big nights" salamanders cross the belly of the world
to migrate to spring pools :

drivers are warned to use headlights, walkers be wary
of their step.




Published in Gettysburg Review

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