Melissa L. Lamberton
Flood stripped clean the creek,
uprooted oak and piñon pine.
I’m nine—all marvel and dismay.
I hold my father’s hand and walk
the pummeled granite spine.
All rush and roar this morning—
now the hush of grateful ground.
In the culvert’s round mouth,
mud pueblos of swallows’ nests
cling high above the waterline,
dry pockets lined with feathers.
He lifts me up to peer inside:
two canyon treefrogs hatch
into my hands, grey and gleaming,
cream-throated and astonished.
They leap and fade to sand.
Older now, my body remembers
dry rivers. Desert canyons cradle
shards of eggshell stars. The weight
and heft of rain. I’ve lost this place,
forgotten the way to climb sheer
walls to safety. Nights I wake to hear
trills and lisps of midnight lullabies,
hunt arroyo and ditch for the shape
of spotted grace, round-toed surprise.
Melissa L. Lamberton is a freelance science journalist and native Tucsonan. Her nonfiction and poetry has appeared in RATTLE, Platte Valley Review, Terrain.org, Flyway, and Sky & Telescope (forthcoming). She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing and Environment at Iowa State University.