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The Mud Hole

The Mud Hole, we called it, the small dark pond
at the foot of the hill. Earth’s eye, omphalos,
secret, canopied by maples, fringed
with brambles, but I knew how to pass
where grown-ups would never find me, perched
in the boughs of the scaly-barked ancestor tree.
A leaf-sprite flecked in shadows, I watched
the frog-rock shoot out its tongue to snag a fly,
the water snake slip through pickerelweed and swivel
in cursive across the murk, the turtle blink
and bask. Lost. Long gone. I climbed carefully down
into the future. Learned to speak human. But still
carry within me the iodine bottle’s potion
of pond water, amber, foul, far too potent to drink.

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