Eastern Red-backed Salamander · Virginia Kendall Area

The Eastern Red-backed Salamander

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by Tovli Simiryan

Another note, you hiking alone,
in/out of cyber-space near some campsite in West Virginia,
moving slowly along a nameless creek, eventually closing in on      Ohio.
So I print…so I have paper thoughts now,
folded for weeks inside my LL Bean kangaroo pocket,
a soft hunk of fluff; not the brittle leaves you crush as
fall arrives beneath your boots, dust filling cavities—
something to guess at…or, better still, declare humbling.
Just send me a picture—the Red-backed Salamander, for example,
before it forms a crust against leaves and gravel.
I hear its red striped skin is forever—a tattoo of belonging,
social monogamy and defended homelands.
Sounds like something you’re looking for, doesn’t it?
Anyway, I’ve stopped guessing, or better still everything I own
is an envelope licked, sealed shut and tasted—the hollow places filled
with living beings, or some plastic bottle tossed aside, now part of
a tattooed reptile’s habitat. Everything has its little place      whether discarded,
remembered or born…
that’s it, birth; I am born deeper and deeper
and looking up, there are so many eyes, so many suns—
every piece the darkened forest transcending an upheaval       of principle,
the little creek with no name and, then your footprints floating against the water;
spinning in the air. There you are—drowning in the earth;
hanging on precariously of course—see how much we’ve loved      you?

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