She pries back the lid of an old take-out
food container and reveals him, mottled,
dark and damp; he hisses. She speaks
to him calmly, my daughter, always in tune
with other worlds. Both salamander and I
are reassured, and she says I may touch him.
Because of her I have held the pinked newness
of rescued baby squirrels, eyes not yet open.
I have cradled orphaned ducklings in my lap, fed
baby rats droppers of kitten formula and let them
nap in the pockets of a flannel shirt. An abandoned
tortoise kept me company as I gardened.
I met a young rooster rescued from a cemetery
in the back of her car on his way to a farm
sanctuary, tolerated an upside down Koi fish
swimming in a kiddy pool she set up in her bedroom
until her careful tending enabled him to right
himself. I have witnessed a wounded bird
limp its way to her, somehow knowing she will help.
The salamander has the damp skin
of homemade pudding. His pulse throbs
through his entire body, visible. Like one
who cannot hide their animal nature from
the world. Like a girl who carries her
heart in her helping hands.
Top photo: Bigstock