Once I took a lantern from the cabinet of tools
and set off in early fall of evening toward
the river where my brother had gone to live
in the shallows as a frog.
My frog brother with his green, pebbly skin,
how I envied his voice and the cool rocks he sat
among. “Brother,” I said, “I have come
to sit with you awhile in this lantern light.”
Somehow, I had forgotten his name,
which I think began with “J” or “G,”
but that was long ago, before he soured
on the town and left for shelter on this smooth
slate ledge. I wish I could say he was overjoyed
to see me, that he leapt into my palms, sharing
his voice with the river and the coming night.
That wouldn’t be true, though he looked at me
aslant in that way he has, a questioning look,
but kindly meant. Lantern light sprinkled onto
the water’s skin, and we were quiet and watched
it dance. It felt like old times, when we would sit
eating the thick pretzels we both loved, maybe
drinking a beer or two. When he rose and slid
into the mirror, I would follow, slipping down
a long glass tube toward the gentle glow
of firelight, the snap of twigs. In the scent
of wood smoke, he told stories from a country
of frogs who journeyed to the stars.
Sometimes they found star brides there.
Then they would sing until the night was full
of sound, and when the fire died down and we slept,
I often dreamt of them, round, and green,
their tongues and bellies filled with gratitude and awe.
If you have any comments on this poem, Steve Klepetar
would be pleased to hear from you.