Frog Body

We recently drove across town on a quiet Saturday afternoon to visit friends and meet their newborn daughter. During our visit, their daughter mostly lay snuggled against her mother's chest, asleep. They told me about their daughter's first weeks and how she only slept when she was lying on their chests, her little frog body.

Their words brought an achy tug as I remembered my children and each of their frog body days. My children are mostly young adults now - and yet the memory of those days are so poignant. The other night I lay next to my son, scratching his head before sleep, feeling how this, too, is passing.

The next week I came across a beautiful dead turtle at the pond where I walk my dogs. I wish I could tell you how magnificent she was! And the image of the turtle, the frog body, and the swiftness of time coalesced into a poem I wrote for my friends, trying to capture the beauty of life, and how no matter how precious, we can't hold on.

Frog Body

At the pond's edge the snapping turtle lies
still. Her back leg splays in the sand
akimbo, the way your dog opens her
hips on the tile floor, cooling herself
from the summer's heat.

Your friend's newborn lies swaddled against
her chest. Those first few days her little frog
body sprawls against her belly. She sleeps
this way for weeks, breath on breath,
heartbeat on heartbeat.

You lay your hand on the turtle, her still
cold shell. You admire her handsome
home, the web of her foot. You know that
nothing lasts forever, that even as this
moment shines it slips into the past of time.

Too soon these frog bodies are long limbed
and lanky. They leave the lights on in their
bedroom and empty the fridge of food. But
when they sleep, often after midnight, they ask,
Will you rub my back?

You lie next to them and listen to the rise
and fall of their breath. Their frog body
is with you, stretched long beside you. You
feel the imprint of those early days, the fluttery
heartbeat and soft sighs upon your chest. It is
your own hands you feel now where their body
once lay. You tremble at the memory, your
frog mother cry.

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