My daughter catches toads on summer nights
when they fill the street in front of her house.
When rain creates rivers of glistening light
beneath the streetlamps, she gathers up armfuls
of toads and frogs, ignoring their baleful stares,
trade for this thankless task. Like the curious
black tadpole she rescued, a pet store cast-off,
he grew in our home tank, exchanging tail for
limbs, gills for lungs. Named after a secret name
our youngest son gave himself one summer at five,
refusing to answer to his given name, our toad,
Mr. Grimshaw, moved among the green fronds
in his tank, fixing us with his bulging eye contempt.
How little grace afforded to those of us
who can’t remember our own transformations.
When rain sang to us, when we remembered gills
in the deluge, when we could pull letters from wisps
of clouds on a summer afternoon, writing the names
we would claim as our own if we could only
remember who we were and everything
we once knew and understood.
Top photo: Bigstock