Elegy for Pseudotriton Ruber

Elegy for Pseudotriton Ruber

Kim Salac
Media Staff

Cold white fingers close 

Over mottled orange skin

A cry of victory escapes

And rings out over ash and oak


Rocks, pockmarked with fossils,

Weigh down pockets.


Shoes and socks abandoned,

Toes crush rotten leaves 

Fiery as the creature in a fist

And almost as slimy. 


The way back memorized

In eyes, in feet, in ears

Cut through clearings

Circle thickets of brambles. 


Never step on clusters of moss

Or wade through tall green grass

And run fast, fast, up the hill

Because snakes and fairies bite alike. 


Up wet sagging wooden steps

The door creaks open.  

A copper-colored yell from the kitchen:

“Wipe your feet!”—too late.


Rocks thrust into calloused hands

Are forgotten for the evening

As tiny impressions of ancient things

Are really not as fascinating. 


The small orange body dropped

Into white plastic with a plunk.

Tail and webbed toes peek

from stolen leaves, soaking skeletons.


The world outside rounded corners

Expands over valleys and ridges,

Towering pines and twisting vines,

And hangs from star laden skies. 


Currents of brittle leaves lap

With the beating breeze 

Where million year old seas 

Swelled against those valleys and ridges.


After sunrise, after dawn and dew,

The salamander sleeps swaddled

In a bed of clay and foliage

Under a trilobite- and coral-studded gravestone.