the fireworks are cracking open the air

and I’ve had just about enough of America

after serving people hot

dogs all day and watching

people eat them on TV so I march

into the woods into the mud into

the pond into my salamander

skin. I bury myself in the clag

until everything is wet,

hushed and warm.

I did this once before

ten years ago or so

when life had gotten noisy

I staggered through California’s redwoods

crawled under a fern, became

a newt, tried to swallow a banana

slug but got in way over

my head and had to stop speaking

for a while, digesting

its girth billowing

from my mouth.

When it was finished

I grew my human legs back

then belly, arms and the rest

and walked back into my life

working at the coffee shop

and having a girlfriend,

a brother and a best friend

like a woman can do.

It was alright for all those years

but now in the mud again

I don’t know how long I’ll be here

but I suspect if I sing Amazing Grace

into the gurgling water the frogs

will chime in then the birds

and rodents and cicadas

until it all sounds

like one sound.

Maybe then it will be time

to slide from the cooing muck

my body and go home.


Elise Ball

Elise Ball is an artist and writer from the San Francisco Bay Area, currently living in Southern Appalachia. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte, and her work has been published or is forthcoming in publications such as TulipTree Review, Flyway, and Arc Poetry.


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