"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison


When I Close My Eyes and Catching Salamanders

When I Close My Eyes and Catching Salamanders

When I Close My Eyes

The door to the nursery swings open
without protest; a silence softened
by hypoallergenic carpet stretched
to walls of gender-neutral colors behind
Pooh Bear and Piglet sharing a pot of honey,
and Tigger bouncing outside Rabbit’s
tree house; a silence hangs over the crib
as I find myself staring at our daughter
and lifting her up to my body
where no amount of no’s wrapped
in my arms brings her blue eyes towards
my soft sounds and no amount pleading
or quick caresses pink her grey-purple skin 
once so warm and soft now cold,

petrified—

I don’t close my eyes and I don’t go down the hall
and the nursery stays empty and locked
and my house never warms and my 
days last through nights as I wear
out the paint opposite her room
with my stare. 

 

 

Catching Salamanders

Two miles I would walk 
upstream to visit you, 
but not on the days your dad 
was home. We would stand—
barefoot and catch them 
in the creek. Hold their wet 
bodies in our cupped hands,
fascinated by their blackness
spotted red and orange.
Putting them back as we found 
them, your buried tenderness
coming out under the soft light 
falling through the mossy 
oak trees on those warm 
summer days.


Peter Hilburn is currently an MFA candidate at SDUS. Retired Chief, USN. Poet. Husband.

Cover photo by Mariana Nocetti on Unsplash

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