Ekphrasis on a Screensaver

by Wendy Babiak

Black and white photograph.
From the murky darkness emerges
a pair of pale slender hands
gender indistinguishable, clean palms
up, one cupped in the other
the only exposed nail a thumb
trimmed white cuticle in sharp focus
the same distance from the lens
as what sits there cradled
like a eucharist, held out for us
to observe but not consume
frozen in stillness by the open shutter:
a small toad, facing the face
that belongs to these two
careful hands, outside the frame
not the subject, but the toad
and the hands' care
rendered by semiosis
to a sign for all
we stand to lose, the unrecognized
beauty of the world's fragile
particulars. See the tiny rump
perched on the pinky
of the topmost hand
the far foot stretched
to the palm of the other
the leg closest folded and bunched
not quite ready to jump
toes toothpick-thin and tipped
by digits like seed beads
the one visible foreleg
out of focus, its toes
blending into the curved
lifeline of the model's palm.
What is sharp is the toad's skin
top-lit, mottled and banded
some of the larger granular glands
resembling small spills of black ink.
What poem would one write
if one dipped one's pen there?