Because his screech is melody and we are all in jeopardy
and all have golden toadsongs semaphoring in our throats.
Because the golden toad teaches us to flirt with day-Glo
explosive breeding excess and to only emerge between the dry and the wet—
though in the end all his flaxen chorusing could bring
no darker gravid female to climb, to clutch and hang upon
and his protective skin was also lung and kidney
a failed-canary early-warning for these coal mine days.
Because the true toad occurs on every continent except Australia
and Antarctica, and is toothless and sleek, deaf and mute
and all the scientists admit there was nothing like it anyone
had ever seen and nothing anyone will ever see again
we must memorize the numbers of decline: from three hundred or more
in each small pond, to twelve the next year, then one lone male in 1989.
and must not conjugate them into present tense
or in the understory and gnarled roots of the elfin forests.
Bring us back to the border of that April-May window and temporary pool,
to the small and bright gold enameled orange hue
that occasionally called out, perfectly patient, perfectly still,
before the end of that wild dangerous ride
like the second plague from Revelations in reverse
or the frog-in-the-moon eclipsing back into the oblivion of a black, human magic,
before the extremely dry El Nino year, the desiccation and larvae ungrown
before that fungus and blight as in a spell from Tubal and Jabal
could be ushered across oceans, on airplanes
in the dirt beneath our fingernails and the dust
lining the Vibram-soled hiking boots
of the new conquistadors.