The smell of cow dung knifes your pink nose
as you walk down the hill lined by fence,
behind the ramshackle old farmhouse
where your bygone and present condense.
You pass the goats, rutting at the dirt
in front of the corrugated pine,
blinking the ammonia from your eyes
so you can see some family line.
The woods start after the grey goats, and fall
away from house and familial cast,
with its green-roof porch and mangy old dogs
and acrid tinge of smoke and the past.
The woods is carpeted with wet leaves —
red, brown, and yellow soldier platoons
delimbed and dead on the battlefield;
your cul-de-sac under far distant moon.
The salamander so surprises
that you jump and startle just a bit
at your city ways and clumsy hands
and total lack of countryish whit.
You see the cow lounging past the wood,
and the weathered shed where father slept,
and hear the far off laughter roll down,
gathering speed to find you inept.
Standing quiet by the gurgling brook,
imprisoned by trees and rolling hill,
with a green salamander in your hand,
your open heart baring plenty to till.