Beware! Take care!

Apr 15, 2018

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Christie Wyman

Happy National Poetry Month! This month I am tagging along with poet/author Amy Ludwig VanDerwater during what has become her annual NPM Project. You can click here to learn more about this straight from Amy! This year she is writing and sharing a new poem every day, each highlighting a different poetic technique, but keeping the same subject. Her challenge, 1 Subject 30 Ways, is also a bit of an informal book study, as she’s using her fall 2017 release Poems Are Teachers (Heinemann) as her guide. Join us!

Today’s poetic technique chosen by Amy is a word or brief phrase end. My subject is, and will be all month long, vernal pools. The idea for today’s poem originated from a desire to give members of the salamander family, including newts, some air time. Frogs need to share the spotlight with these very shy creatures.

My Kindergarten naturalists loved meeting this spotted salamander up close on Wednesday when our biologist-in-residence, Emilie, met us at our vernal pool. We talked about the spots serving as a warning to predators and that they have a toxic substance in their bodies that is distasteful to those who decide to try them for a snack. This led me to collect other examples of vernal pool inhabitant defense mechanisms, and the poem Beware was born. The efts mentioned in my poem are teenaged newts!

Beware
Take care
Eft’s neon warning
Daphnia’s shape shifting
Green frog’s alarm-call yelp
Spring peeper’s aggressive trill
Snapping turtle’s serrated shell and saw-toothed tail
Four-toed salamander’s disconcerting dancing disconnected tail
Predaceous diving beetle’s piercing mandible
Water snake’s merciless and painful bite
Salamander’s noxious skin secretion
Dragonfly’s airborne assault
Predator
Induced
Defense

-- Christie Wyman, 2018

How seriously cool is it that four-toed salamanders can disconnect their tail and that it keeps moving? Disconcerting to say the least!

To learn more about newts, check out Wonderopolis' Wonder of the Day #1498: What Is a Newt?

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