Cold bumps of steel on my back,
I hide in the culvert, looking
at the light that dies near its mouth.
I hold the cold toad to my chest,
his belly a pale green ball in my palm.
The smell is wild and alive,
a mixture of stagnant water and torn weeds.
Once in a while a car drives overhead
crunching the gravel,
a hard ping of echo through the tube.
I wonder how they would feel
driving over me as I pretend that I am crushed
the circle of light on both ends turning into crooked slits
of yellow and gray.
There is a faint hum of wind coming from
the far end of the culvert and I become anxious,
a boyhood excitement, the trembling tension
The toad and I, gulping on thin air,
wait for our chance to escape
into the world again
at just the right moment.
We cannot allow anyone to see us emerge
from our dark secret; we wait on spring haunches.
Together we make our break,
rushing into the day, onto the broken rocks,
through the rough climb of a dirt hill
to a field of wheat, running for it,
the small clump of cottonwoods in sight,
their shade like a Midwest oasis,
our new secret, our next way
among the too hot sun
and the not quite blue sky
by David Magill
David Magill, born in Kansas City, Missouri, moved to Minnesota as a young boy and grew up on a hobby farm in Afton. He has been married to his wife, Patti, for 23 years.
His work has recently been published in Metonym and The Esthetic Apostle.