Nathan Erwin

A Dream of Salamanders

The two of us, mother & son, our hands
empty, eating each spare word
by the vernal pools at dusk.
We eat
a rabbit’s shadow
suddenly in place by my boot.
A cloud wanders by hooting
at emptiness. We sit for days
on the earth & on the seventh,
thousands of salamanders are born          wet, pouring
out of the fire.

Stroking our heads,
we leave the woods behind, covered in trees,
out of the gloom with sacks full of hellbenders, newts,
mudpuppies, & redbacks,
wriggling along the first arc of land, chattering
          about bread & milk, milk, bread
                    & breaking.

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Nathan Erwin is a land-based poet raised on the Allegheny Plateau, the northernmost tier of Appalachia. A community and institutional organizer, Erwin currently operates at the Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust building healthy futures for indigenous farmers and organizing around land, food, and seed sovereignty. His writing has recently appeared in The Journal, North American Review, Poetry Wales, Bombay Gin, Hunger Mountain, and Ninth Letter. His organizing and his poetry are conversant, and so he writes about foodways, myths, medicine, and wanting.