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How Can I Imagine a Frog-Shaped Absence in the Absence of a Frog?

(Part I of III)

I seem to remember that you didn’t even have a

Name yet

When I awoke in that room with walls painted grey

By my own request, in a bed I can no longer fit into

My memory, sunlight sweeping in through that window onto that desk that still wheels itself into my dreams until I wonder if any of this was



It was supposed to be fun.

Just a little glimpse into growth, into life, to watch a tadpole weave its way through the

Water until it metamorphosed into a frog.


I don’t think I thought about

Death, then. Maybe I knew you would die

Someday, leapfrogging into a vague Atheist notion of

Heaven to lap up flies beneath a comforting, blue-sky endlessness

With your friends.


Or maybe I was too bathed in heart-racing, jaw-aching joy

From a birthday party, a grandparent visit, and I figured you would live



Belly-up. Was this discovery my first encounter with



Did I cry? Surely the salty tears slid from my eyes onto that 

Carpet the same color as dirty concrete, surely the tears scattered

And mingled with the stains whose origins have since slipped

My mind. Surely I cried when I found you,

Immortalized, a child

Destined to never see the world

Through grown-up eyes

Sinking with no lids yet to blink away the blur

Of drowned potential.

I can’t remember


I don’t know what happened

To you. My mother probably sent you to watery eternity

Down the plumbing pipes when I was looking

Away. Did we bury you

In the yard?

Reimagining heaven with a deep, crystalline pond must have been

Too easy.


What do you feed a tadpole? Something more

Than whatever cheap substitute I found at the pet store the day you wriggled into my life without the food

They were supposed to send with you. I don’t think I’ll ever know

What I did wrong.


In winter, snowdrifts swept into piles across the field 

And engulfed the sky in white

Frost climbed the fence and the tank filled with empty

Silence. A vast vacancy that was once the epitome of immobility.


Belly-up, drifting in unmatched stillness.

©Kaylee Schuler

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