Saturday, October 4, 2014


This is my photo from ca. 79
    —from a photo by Joy Harjo

During the dry heat of Indian summer,
toad families crawled out from their dens
along the earth bank above our house. 
Because they cried like babies, 
I put them in the wicker crib that 
corralled three generations of family. 
If I picked the toads up wrong 
or scared them, they'd pee on me,
gazing at me with gilt-rimmed eyes
the color of dry summer grass,
as I weighed their squat mossy
coolness in my grubby hands.
It was a time of little water, our spring,
reduced to a trickle, meant no baths,
our bodies became rough as toadskin.
What brought them out? Hunger? 
Thirst? Anticipation of rain?
I'd carefully place them back 
by their gopher hole burrows
not thinking of the water I'd stolen.
Little hogan earth dwellers, they'd tuck
back into the cool darkness,
waiting for a safer time to migrate
down to the creekbed and lay
their beaded strings of pale eggs.

Published in Bay Area Generations 15, Nov. 24, 2014

Western toad, A. Boreas —Wiki

2nd draft: Late summer, the toads would come out. Because they cried, I put them in the old wicker baby crib that corralled three generations of children. If I picked the toads up wrong or scared them, they'd pee on me. It was a time of little water. What brought the toads out? Thirst? But I always put them back by their reclaimed gopher hole burrows. Little earth dwellers.

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