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The Salamander’s Oath

I was born in the mud and trickle, in compromised water
that made its deal with earth, the half-world below heaven,
slave to Your hot eye.

I live loving the tang of iron and weed, taking
my drink just by being, breath seeping through skin
without redundant lungs

You thrust on me—presuming dry land suited me better,
pursuing me under the flood, steaming my lovers
and my more precious soup.

It wasn’t for You that I poked my snout from slime, suffered
drought, a neck full of ache and submission,
and a reckless run on unsteady legs.

Nightly, when wet creeps up from parched ground,
glints riffle in the black river above. I would map
their lost pattern, stitch

with the ghost of my tail the fractured pact,
complete the circle, so beloved ocean again
filled the full sphere.


© David Ruekberg

Originally published in Border Crossing, Fall 2012