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.