Hyla arenicolor

Canyon treefrog

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.