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
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
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.