Mudlark No. 40 (2010)

Where I Don’t Live Now

One day each year, the sidewalks are covered
in just-hatched peeper-toads, no bigger than a thumbnail,
warming their newly-hatched bodies in the sun
and leaping off into the grass, so many
it is impossible to walk anywhere
without crushing them. Later, when they’ve vanished
we sweep their crushed bodies into the grass.
And we listen to their singing at night; we sleep
to the message they sing out: I’m here! I’m here!
We dream with their singing, for a few nights at least,
until that singing vanishes too.
I miss the home I grew up in sometimes,
when the seasons change. The wind there, in the trees.
Do we live in our bodies, or are our bodies who we are?
As one morning, fishing, my father and I 
saw a group of boys baiting their hooks with live frogs
they’d caught in the bogs there, pushing the hooks 
through those plump bodies and casting. They were laughing 
at the spastic thrashing the frogs swam impaled
or just stopped moving and floated—useless bait—
and they thought we would find their thrashing funny too.
They even asked my father if he would like a frog or two.
There were plenty, they said, where those came from.

Michael Hettich | Mudlark No. 40 (2010)
Contents | The Burning Door