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Fable of Frogs

Emma Trelles

"Learning to Touch," by Ilan Friedland. YoungArts.

We were all dozing and floating in the night waters of the Redlands, where stars bent light to the ground as if they were still new.

We were plain and cold to the touch, and we liked it that way.

Routine was our god and so were the winged beads we snapped into our mouths with the speed of pink lightning. We were long years past wishing for what we wanted. We ate and crapped and fucked and slept. One evening, there was more.

The dark room of the pond shivered and crickets ceased their one-note demands and knives of sawgrass shook with longing. We began to levitate.

Up into the indigo we opened each juicy eye with care and looked beneath at the peat, at crows smudged on wires that chain words together and roofs like two hands pressed in supplication and signs the color of summer hissing three-thousand promises.

Then, higher, sailing on the heart-shaped rafts that once kept us pinned to what we knew, and were now a promise we were not finished yet.

Below us were children killing minutes, or tracking lilac moths in the hedges, and dogs with little use for flying frogs, and the cats who noticed us and kept silent, as always. We passed over farms and mist and the worn skin of cities, the poisoned land still hanging on.

Some of us dropped into towns where we lived in peace or fell with the rain and disappeared down grates into the kingdoms of refuse and silence.

Some died on the tarmac by the motion that never ceases over this earth. A few slipped away into the broken choirs heard at night, somewhere, beyond sight and even knowing what a thing is despite all the times its voice is heard.

Another way this ends is two of us together, in the farthest away, where the light is hazed and the salt-stripped grasses keep singing, yes, there is life between cliffs and stones huddled in the small and grand forests.

Who knew flight could peel the verve right from you? Or that the crescent moon could find you home, and maybe there is hope anywhere you go, if you take it with you through the cloud of years, it must be carried, it must be carried.


Emma Trelles is the daughter of Cuban immigrants and the author of Tropicalia (University of Notre Dame Press), winner of the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize. She lives in California, where she teaches at Santa Barbara City College & programs the Mission Poetry Series.