Robin LaBlank

If you can hear a frog or two on a summer night you know you are okay. The universe is humming out to you to remind you of afternoon sweat and cool lakes.

Sunning on rocks and croaking in amongst the rushes and surging through water, frogs are a poor man's seal. There are things I would like to learn from a frog. Frogs know about the relationship between mud and water and how to turn a bug into a meal. They can sit very still. They are very small, and yet they have tremendous voices. Frogs say things with which no one would ever argue. Frogs wear metallic colors comfortably. They are built like baggy old ladies but move like gazelles. And though they are seldom violent toward humans, they compel a certain startled response. Frogs are masters of surprise. When you catch them between your palms, frogs can make glorious escapes. They bounce, soar, and stretch out their front paws or toes or what have you. Frogs can sit, and frogs can move. And those two things are among the hardest things for any human to do. Frogs make the fullest use of their tongues.

I have known frogs in clean mountain waters and in backyard creeks and in stagnant apartment complex ponds. Frogs are beautifully adaptable, utterly economic beings. Frogs are our ancient oracles who try each fecund summer evening to draw us in, but we have lost our frog language, we have let our tongues get out of shape. We have lost the ability to build a square meal from bugs, and we have forgotten the power of surprise. We make no real frog leaps. The key to world peace, though we are, all of us, in a blood compact to avoid admitting it, is to learn to speak frog again. But frog is a language spoken by still and powerful beings. It is a rhythm our restless ears canít fathom. Re-learning frog will be a discipline of plenty-seeing over plenty-seeking. We will need an aesthetic of mud, a capacity to evaluate opportunities of murky water and undistinguished rocks. We must be connoisseurs of slime. The flesh of bugs must attract us. We will let our bellies go slack, but we will train our jumpy legs. And we will practice croaking, making our whole bodies into organs that vibrate, frog-like with no-word songs. Then just as our rhythm seems interminable, we will jump, startle even ourselves, but ride the jump full out nonetheless, then plunge, plunge, plunge into the water cold on our hot shiny skins- and then end our swim and stick our rounded toes out to pull ourselves up onto a surface warm and smooth on top, fringed in velvet at the edges where our island becomes ocean.

We will have dinner flown in, and will wear the pinky-purple and green shimmery evening gowns, and we watch the sun glimmer its last as we renew our concert to the audience circling around our stage flickering, lights of the sky chariots. We will sing every note of existence to a young girl stretched out on the carpet of the world before her first kiss, and we will sing in rhythm with the smell of his cheek while the grand show lights in the roof of our amphitheater sometimes blister across her view.


Sunning on rocks and croaking in amongst the (blank) and (blank), through water, frogs are a poor manís seal.