by Patricia Zylius
As I walk the upper path, a croaking
rises from the gully. I make my way down
through eucalyptus hissing in the wind.
Along the creek the stunted grasses are beginning to brown.
Still a smatter of poppies. Trace of skunk musk.
I come to the pool where neighborhood runoff
emerges from the culvert under Branciforte Drive.
Nothing could live in that water,
seepage full of Roundup, dripped oil,
ant spray washed from siding and foundations.
Where do the frogs come from?
I never see tadpoles here. Mosquitoes?
Never any telltale larval squiggles,
nothing hovering. Not even algal scum.
Once a pair of mallards tried the spot.
She sat on the narrow bank, he paddled blankly
in small circles. I never saw them again.
Nerves flare in my knee. Lightning zaps
a line from collar bone to groin. My mother used to say
Offer it up for the souls in purgatory.
Maybe I’m looking at purgatory.
It’s here in this toxic drainage,
the beings in this ghost-green liquid invisible.
— from Juniper Volume 3, Issue 2