Image by Louise Dickinson-Brown
PHOENIX AND SALAMANDER
By Lewis Turco
None knows how long the Phoenix lives,
but it is long — as long as forever,
perhaps. As it was born of fire,
to fire it must return, the gold
and scarlet of its plumage
molting in flame, reducing to
ore and ash. And it will burn a hundred
years. Before it may again be
born, while in its heat, it must mate:
the chill salamander climbs
into the aerie to live
within its host the century of love.
The lizard dies with its embers,
lies buried in ash, with the rains
decays, becomes the rock's hollow
heart. Out of this geology
the embryo is sprung at last, quaking,
the mountain split, the fledgling bird
shrieking in the clear air of dawn
broken upon what now must be.
From an unpublished manuscript, A Book of Beasts, poems by Lewis Turco, illustrations by Louise Dickinson-Brown; the poems may be found in Fearful Pleasures: The Complete Poems of Lewis Turco 1959-2007, Scottsdale, AZ: www.StarCloudPress.com, 2007. ISBN 978-1-932842-19-7, cloth; ISBN 978-1-932842-20-3, paper. Also available in a Kindle edition.