Fishing for Salamanders

Michael Stevens

Just off the river's edge
among aspens and big tooth maples,
clear water from last night's rain
sits atop the silty mud and rotting leaves,
a narrow pond just waiting to be murkied. 

Shadows and sun-sparkles
vie for dominance
as the shifting winds
wiggle and wave the leaves.

Pale-faced salamanders,
firms egg whites with legs,
meander through the maze of
spongy algae and water-logged bark,
peering at each other
with distant, worried looks
questioning the three solid shadows above.

Three skinny boys
perch a hair's breadth
above the water
on a wobbly fallen branch—
young birds of prey
fishing for salamanders
with waxed paper cups.