Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 9
Spring 2014

The Newt in the Bathroom

by Sylvia Levinson

Checking for today’s good news, I step naked
on the glass digital scale. A tiny brown newt
scurries out from under, presses itself tight 
against the cabinet bottom. Now, I have been
known to swat the occasional housefly, crush 
an errant ant, but I can see this little guy’s shiny
dark eyes, and his heart pulsating in his throat.

Then I remember the poem my friend wrote— 
about a gopher his dog brought into the house.
How it hid in the hall closet and my friend and his wife
cornered it, and he trapped it  under a plastic bowl and
slid cardboard underneath. It was raining and his wife, 
in her blue housedress, grabbed the whole contraption
and ran barefoot outside, taking the furry destroyer 
of their roses to the safety of a sheltered place in the yard, 
and how my poet-friend, watching this tender-hearted 
love-of-his life running back to the house, to him, laughing,
drenched by the rain, that blue dress “pasted to her hips,” 
felt so amazed and so lucky.

I put my flannel cherry-print pajamas back on, slip
into my garden clogs, dig in the junk drawer for 
a piece of cardboard, in the cupboard for a large
plastic drinking glass. Using my friend’s technique,
I capture the soft brown body, tiptoe him to the garden, 
place the jerry-rigged trap on a flagstone and lift the glass. 
“Go little guy,” I whisper, but he remains frozen.

I return to the house, hoping he will recover, 
that his fear will calm and his heart will slow, 
and he will scamper under a sheltering bush.

It is not a rainy day. I am not wearing a blue dress
molded to my body. And there is no one admiring me
out the window, grinning, amazed at his good luck.


SHJ Issue 9
Spring 2014

Sylvia Levinson

lives in San Diego. She is the author of Spoon (Finishing Line Press, 2013), and Gateways: Poems of Nature, Meditation and Renewal (Caernarvon Press, 2005). Publications include: Snowy Egret, Blue Arc West, City Works, Hunger and Thirst, Mamas and Papas, San Diego Poetry Annual, San Diego Writers Ink, Magee Park, The Christian Science Monitor, Ekphrasis, and Serving House Journal.

She volunteers at KSDS Jazz 88.3 FM, and attends many theater and jazz performances each year.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury