— Vuong Vu
After the rain, tadpoles were everywhere,
in the shallow ponds of footprints,
in garden boots and water pails;
so it must have been going on for weeks—
hidden by the curtain of rain—
the lovemaking of frogs.
In the rain, how they must have been
together like carved blocks of jade.
He is upon her; he is all delicate limbs
and eyes like glass beads.
She is much wider than he—
though no less delicate and paler,
the green of a plump broad bean.
Her eyes blink heavily
beneath his padded fingers,
his slippery caress.
Their eyes now closed, mouths agape,
as if to pronounce, ‘Oh!’—
and the rain, how it continues to fall,
oh!, so softly upon them.
Their lovemaking ends with a string
of eggs glistening like pearls
in the vase of a calla lily.
He hops away quickly,
only to pause on a nearby leaf,
perhaps trying to remember her face,
her bulging eyes in the moonlight,
wide curvature of her mouth,
her skin is ivy and ferns,
her limbs are flower stems—
But there is no use for such romantic notions,
There is still a garden full of female frogs,
and he is to die in a number of days.
So he leaps into the tall grass,
still strong, and is gone.
Only she remains and takes in the night,
brilliant with raindrops like stars.
She wears the countenance of accomplishment,
having laid her eggs, she is done.
In a few days, she, too, dies,
but she would rather die this night—
the soft rain falls on her like feathers,
and the air is fragrant with spring
(moss, dogwood, field mustard,
brown fiddleheads, crocus flower).
But she, too, has no use for memories
of his slippery touch,
how pleasantly heavy he felt upon her,
his sagging throat bellows folding
like wrinkled sheets on her back.
There is no morning-after, no longing
to hear his voice, deep and shrilling,
his webbed foot as soft as a leaf.
She yawns, stretches her limbs,
and leaps into the rainy night.