When sunlight beckons on a Tuesday

with a few hours to myself

outside the back door, tansy

leaves like ferns emerging

I move maple logs devoid of bark

creating a small Stonehenge

near the bird feeder and birdbath.


Everything reminds me of him

from the empty grey chairs,

to red paint chips among the mint

to pale green sedum in a broken clay pot

to old bricks he collected

to the base of a terrarium that

leaked when I first met him,

built years before, during

his first and unhappy marriage.


When sunlight beckons on a Tuesday

I remember when we had strawberries,

asparagus, raised garden beds and

a rotting back porch, leftover cats,

and only one son, his golden curls

above overalls and red sneakers,

content with a plastic pipe

and toy lawnmower, pretending

to fix things while smoking

just like his father on Saturdays.


In moving the old terrarium, wooden

and brass heavy, the dirt underneath

reveals a redbacked salamander,

scooped up and saved in goatskin gloves

given to me by my mother to protect

my hands, which I barely wore

until today, a thin edge of purple on grey.


Blinded as I entered the house from sun

my eyes taking longer to adjust,

my hands as if accepting Holy Communion

the salamander squirms towards certain doom,

I panic, grabbing a cheap vase that once

held a Spring bouquet the March my father died.


Back outside to trowel moist dark dirt

and worms, as my mind fumbles and sifts

through old memories regarding what

salamanders need to survive in

temporary captivity, quite certain

he once would have remembered even if

no sunlight beckoned on a Tuesday.

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