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.

Show Comments