by Celina McManus
Celina McManus writes poetry, fiction, and children’s literature. Her work is featured or forthcoming in Hooligan Magazine, Cosmographia Books, and Z Publishing’s Minnesota’s Best Emerging Poets, and was a finalist for the Loft Mentor Series in 2016 for fiction. She is from Knoxville, Tennessee and lives in the Twin Cities. She received her MFA at Randolph College and currently teaches English at Century College in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
on a rock in metcalf bottoms
boys sling small rocks at one other and laughter spills out. i tell them, those stones are for the salamanders. there go the spring lizards housing satin-sweet skin along a marriage of current. each day, the salamanders swim to a stonehenge home of dilapidated solomon’s seal. here they tongue slivers of larvae into their children’s mouth like molasses. soft babies wriggle with curiosity when they find what’s on the other side of wet thunder. mudpuppy mothers go shopping for supper and their slick backs radiate outward i am here! i am alive! forgive the boys who slurp them, they know not what they do. they wrap plastic bags around branches like used condoms, a flag for their kingdom. cicadas squeal and the dizzied boys take girls’ hair and tie them to branches and watch their bodies fling like stars n stripes, the pink spots of them candy. the girls twist into soaked, round logs. they grow up as spruce, safeguarding the moss maps. salamanders birth between empty basswood buttons and wet stone. here they come, crawling in between your teeth, swimming wildly at the back of your esophagi.