Poem of the Week

Axolotl

Amy Roa

I never got really good at building heavily armored beasts.
The shape of the wrists
always unfurled,
headed somewhere else
where the butter supply was plentiful.
The axolotl suited me better.
There’s no word to describe the joy of putting an axolotl in the sky.
I shot one out of a cannon in an attempt to help him evolve wings.
“Adapt or die,” I whispered and lit the match.
There was plenty of room up there.
He soared above the yellow grass,
above pelicans with rotten bills and stringy, matted feathers.
Someday he’ll turn up again, I thought. Unless, of course, he freezes to death like the dinosaurs.
But there was no freeze, I corrected myself.
There were those who kept to themselves, bounded forward with eager steps
to make nests near shimmering surfaces
and listen to echoes bouncing off the bodies of insects.
Though, it’s true they left no written account of their peace or war.
If you trace back the origins of the axolotl,
you end up at the point in history
where they fail to conquer the sky.
I shoved another axolotl into a cannon,
looked to the right side of her face, where all the clues are laid out,
assured her that a star is the closest thing to a perfect black body.

Amy Roa is a poet whose poems have appeared in Quarterly West, The Antioch Review, and The North American Review. She lives and writes in Brooklyn, New York.
Originally published:
July 7, 2021

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