The salamander in red eft Spotted last year among the wood’s Rain-soaked leaves, Pulsing with a riddle I have yet to figure, Will be full grown now And hidden among moss and mud, Its fragile glow gone Except as an image I recall Against the muted brown slopes, The young and dripping trees― A whole, humming Southeastern hillside, Timbered at least twice, But growing now, Oaks rising above understory.
In the City Woods
That breathe Between school and asphalt lake, Virginia Creeper leaves fall first, Red negatives with saw-teeth edges Pasted, Mid-pulse, Against dull dirt. Roots rubbed smooth by bike tires cross the trail. Each leaf has been seen. These trees store a record Of the same floods as us in their rings. And yet, A warp and weft— Spider web, owl pellet, The scatter of shadows on box turtle’s back— Occasionally gleams Through the density Of dying green. Days are still long. Half-grown fawns startle here. Grey foxes bide their invisible time, Sharp eyes dark stars.
Public Comment on the Reinstitution of Uranium Mining in Virginia
My cousin and I dug into the red dirt bank beside his house― Pittsylvania County clay powder-dry those summer days. We would unearth white rocks, crystalline in structure, Sometimes remarkably clear, like salt (or diamonds, we thought), If we rubbed a spit-wet finger over them. Across the road, the last of the lime green tobacco grew. HBO was new. My uncle caught it all in the white mitt of his satellite dish. Heat lightning played in a distant landscape, Wider than my own foothills home almost an hour away. The earth undulated toward the coastal plain. Tree lines at the edge of cultivated fields shimmered in the heat. My cousin’s tall dog, Tilly—half-shepherd, half-husky, Long-legged like a young wolf—loped with us as we played, Her steady eyes mirthful and, in memory at least, almost blue. The clouds unfolded noiselessly Over the sun-browned back of my cousin’s neck And all the while, less than a mile as the crow flies, Potential energy―primeval, dusty mouthed― Hummed a cracked Geiger tune.