by Michelle Hendrixson-Miller

Toad the size of an infant’s heart
beating its cool body against
the padded walls of my hands.

I walk down the path,
wait for it to settle. Stop.

As I open slowly
to get a closer look,
the toad leaps
from the tower of me

to land hard
on rocky ground.

It hops right,
then left, unharmed?

The Japanese flower masters
believe our ears too hard to hear
the cut flower’s scream.

And I wonder if the toad is screaming
And what else is screaming,

as I (uncertain which
impulse is right)

reach to catch and carry
the toad back,
pounding in my hands.

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