BY Holly Day
After the fires died down and the smoke blew away
the only thing left of the little lizards
and the spiders
a lone jackrabbit
and a burrow owl
were their shadows trapped in a plate of glass
an uneven windowpane of melted desert sand.
If you could lift this glass out of the desert
cut it into tiles
find some use for it in your house
you could keep their trapped surprise with you always
some memory of a sunny day in the Nevada desert
populated by creatures unaware they were trespassing
on government property.
If you put your fingers in the water you can feel
the slick scales of ghosts from all of the fish
dumped in here over the years, carnival prizes
that were too much to care for
set free by well-meaning children.
There are so many turtles in this pond.
They come here for the fish.
If you put your ear to the ground, you can hear the movement of tiny worms
also brought here by children dropping off their fish,
some parasitic creature that disengaged from the fish before they were dead
or after they were eaten by the turtles living in this pond.
Don’t put your ear too close to the ground
or they’ll find a way in.
Sometimes, late at night, you can hear the fish moving through the still water
tiny tails slapping against the surface as they struggle to breathe
in a pond clogged with algae. The lack of oxygen in the water doesn’t bother the turtles
because they already come up to the surface for air.
There are no turtle ghosts in this pond.
All of the ghosts belong to fish.