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35 On Finding a Salamander in the Hollywood Hills Into deep shade a salamander crept. It curled its body there, and moistly slept, Till I removed an old agave pot. The mire convulsed in little specks of blue. A shape was generated from the stew, As if the mud had conjured up a thought. I scooped it up and cupped it in my palm. It flashed its bolting tongue, stayed boldly calm, Its aspic flesh congealing in a knot Of ancient blood, the ripened afterbirth Of roses, springing from the fabled earth, Preposterous, like something time forgot. Across the laurel chaparral and oak, The shadows shrank, the season smelled of smoke. The salamander, so the myth is taught, Can withstand fire.With fierce, bituminous stare, The way a dying star dims with a flare, It blinked away the noonday sun’s white-hot And airy universe of bees and birds And poets prospering on weightless words, Then crawled back to its ponderous realm of rot, Pinning me like a magnet to the spot. ...


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