Golden Toad (Incilius periglenes)

Bucketloads of toads had hopped across
the peat and humus high up on the hill
where lichen, orchid, climbing fern, and moss
tricked out the trees, contorted, stunted. Shrill

as fifes and orangey as mangos, tiny
as thumbs, mustered around their favorite puddle—
primordial bronzes showing off their shiny
enamel-sprayed complexions as unsubtle

as neon lamps—they warbled and they waited
and when the dappled female toads were seen,
posthaste these jewels of Monteverde mated—
a life-and-death exuberant routine.

Torrents of tadpoles flooded down the slope
one year, or baked the next, their state unstable.
Yet always they had found a way to cope—
till now. As in a fatalistic fable,

their pool dried up. The knot of adults trekked
back across the tangly roots and fern,
back to their lairs to dream and recollect
the vernal raindrops—never to return.