Encounter with Frogs
What is an impression worth?
A frog. And a jar of ruddy leeches.
When I say “frog,” I think “Frogs.
Frogs are good to think.”
The matter of frog experience first floats
Then sinks mostly unknowable, spuriously
Into the spawning pond of memory.
It’s a rich seminal soup, full of eyes,
Magnified, each a natural universe.
These eyes are vocal once they spring
Breaking through the skin of things.
In season, everywhere. Then they’re out.
Wonders of compromise, they extend themselves
To bridge the poles of water world and padded land.
And the extensions can be perceived from the eyes
As orderly change, clear and strange,
As leggy fish with iguana tails,
As animals flying on all fours,
Fully outstretched, twice their size,
Jumping, climbing piggy-back,
Unabashedly clambering onto one another’s backs,
Orange on orange, green on green,
Clinging colorfully, eyes bulging,
They seem a surprise even to themselves.
When they leap
From the dense compact of bone and skin,
The plastic tapestry
Takes shape. As lightning bolts or spotted lilies on fresh
Frogs are naturally good to think,
To take inside as part of insubstantial life,
Changing order, cruising the classifications.
Their song defeats the ears, allegro!
The rhythmic noise communicates,
Encroaching on all other senses,
Setting forth reverie:
Against the moon and stars,
Spiked grasses on the mirror lake,
Edging the weeds, where
Sedge warblers are sleeping on blue eggs.
The scene you see cannot be forced,
Cannot be tidily arranged
By science or dulling habit.
My eyes within no longer truly see.
There they swim in thicker waters,
Shooting across the neural galaxies,
Where they re-connect icons.
From a blade of grass, the rest:
Echoing ripples across
Shattering the constellations,
Ruffling the lily pad
And its camping amphibious motility.
Making the connections symphonic, concrete,
Like visiting forgotten shrines,
So much depends on Memory.
Glazed frogs transporting—déjà vu—
Faint essences to flush meadowlarks
From the nesting spirit
To wild flights of fancy.
Each a winged message,
Calling, answering unasked questions.
My gaze, pilgrim in a landscape
Painting itself inside,
Inviting me to choose the color and the brush.
This is a risky business,
On the odd chance a relevant word
Will leap the illogical impasse.
by David Gilmour
Hike, Whidbey Island
the prairie’s far north side we strike
the bluff trail, wind lush with salt,
stories pried from kelp.
have we always owned their song?
An eagle glides forty feet above us,
held aloft without a quiver.
as anthracite, it drifts toward terrain
only it can occupy, more stunning
even the lagoon trapped between beach
bluff. When we pause by a stark,
sun-bleached log I see beyond you
path it takes, the descent into myth,
port I long to visit. No, not visit—
Fling my net over a dream
as birthright, a child’s first realm.
fairy tales, hazelnut trees atop
a wild ravine—all food to nourish
living no less than a prodigal rain.
this bird’s passive flight. Such
open us like shells. What tide must
invoke to cross the water?
Perego’s Trail at Ebey’s Landing
A few miles
from home, our get-away from months
rounds of merest metabolism,
even flat fields lay as still wonders,
prairies leveled in spring plantings,
out of ourfallow bodies like clouds
burst after too much drinking in the dark.
Was high time
for two of us to center on one
suburban cycles of delivery and receipt,
To get up for
some other purpose than habit presents.
Coupeville on the Whidbey map, Perego’s Trail,
the outermost edge of the yellow bluff, took us,
Ebey’s Landing, hundreds of feet, treading
between the wild and the good, the lower Straits
Dungeness and cultures plats of Sherman’s Land.
Out of limbo
we trod the path toward the north where
brackish ponds limn the narrow strand below,
with drifted logs and scraggly stumps
for Skagit mills. Claims in every
named with history’s lumber, now standing
In shacks and
mansions that coursed down rivers
and settled at last vagabond in tamed banks
sailors’ dreams for safe landings and boarding
community nestles in.
beach, the trail rose northward up sturdy planks,
to land, then angling west to the Sound,
the line climbing the lower bluff’s rim,
stations crude benches were set for those soon weary.
askance, we strode past turning points, glancing
Out to sea at
fingertip islands and the peninsular thumb
Of the giant
who held the Sound as a mirror in his palm.
still to take the trail where the air hummed
pockets of morning sun, music of a million bees,
cello wings, busy among the dog rose, pink
Gems on hedges,
spikey, thick and green against the fields
Of fox tails waving
to the east as we glanced that way.
At first the
swath was worn by companies into three
clear, black sand; the two beside it, matted grass,
Leading us up
past Sherman’s rich green acres to the right
over the gray shingled shore to the left, where
and backs crouched low, combing the leavings
By the driftwood
webbing that snagged worthless treasures
Brought in by
last night’s rough tide.
calm waters over Admiralty Inlet spread constant,
of the fading turquoise horizon of Juan de Fuca Straits.
furrows of the tilled fields had a distant meeting
red-winged blackbird balancing on the fence line.
the path retreated along the wild ridge, stitched
In firs and
patches of Oregon Grape merging on shimmering borders,
The nature of
our minds wakened in the see-saw of thought,
As the brown
buntings we noticed hovering before, alighted
illusionists on the soft silk of fragile stalks,
as air, bowing them double with their scant weight,
bare clinging, then snapping like catapults into the breeze.
arising, the whistle of the blackbird perched on the post,
brushed against our calves and feather ticked the bends
Of our knees,
as bees led the way before our feet, without a drone,
and reasoned distance from our slowing footfalls.
reflections on the dappled turquoise below met a bluing line
solitary seal arced over and glided in its elemental quest
Out into the
reflections penetrating the inward currents
outer gleam from wide-eyed questioning—
What is that
within me, self-directed in what direction?
Who is behind
Two hundred feet up we
stood to gaze behind
boomerang arc of the strand stretching back.
grasses flattened down near the bluff’s edge
Brought us to
rest on the next rise of the narrowing path.
We closed our
lids to the blue dome.
ceiling of the temple with a yellow eye pulled away
being, taking all noise, purpose, and thought,
on an ethereal balloon beyond geometry,
might have lifted off once from his Delphic throne.
She, my wife
not the oracular priestess type, lay suspended
In her temple
at my side, always more practical, stirred
heard the drone of an airplane
close to her distant reveries,
or else the
wind came and so the stars began to fizzle
as the breeze
mounted against the cliff and strummed upon the grasses.
Then it grew
quiet as a desert.
fire nearby was a simple, pink rose she plucked
To savor in
her cupped hands the warm, sweet balm
And held it
close for me to breathe, her eyes closing,
much more than the closing of the lids, that,
in that floral bowl I watched for stars
hands withdrew the fiery scent.
zenith, dazzled by the sky, righting ourselves
further north, resuming the rhythm in earnest.
place between our feet.
frantic ants crossed the trail, swimming
dusty track, risking all the tribe.
clung to the head of an upturned pill-bug,
a many legged turtle, ant legs
the sandy grains, yanking at its load,
nowhere, getting but getting nowhere,
A spider lay
crumpled in the corrugated treads of a biker’s
marks. A centipede, two inches of coild
itself, a sun spiral in eclipse.
twitched with injured insects as we rose
bluff’s height, where the wind was harping
A new harmony
among the tattered pines.
the seaward, as if clawing a my ear,
An eagle held
itself braced on the updraft,
distant, wings rattling like bronze quills.
I heard no
kite like it for stability,
And I saw its
eye, an eye that truly looked,
that eye looking, seeing, back at me,
stare, fearless and knowing,
tranquil as a living angel with a heavy brow,
transfixed me like alost lamb.
hovering moment, I felt a free-fall
sky lightened again and turning away
Its beak with
smoother-back white hair,
surfer dropped downward toward the shore
arc of the bay, doubled by itsown gray ghost
Cast upon the
shingle beach below,
the open air, while I walked on in stumbling gait.
The water now
so calm a kayaker might course crossways
ultramarine veins of the inlet.
bobbed in the shallows.
dove and held their search so long
till now, rained down in shrieks of panicked
fighting for a space
feeding ring around the gamboling seal.
Perego’s Lake, the trail ended and turned
steeply to the beached whales of driftwood.
It was living
on this edge, and transitions were made
In a moment.
trace back the way we came or one carefully placed
down and bridge began to form that way.
She held my
shoulders from behind, and together we made descent
As a centaur
might onecehave ventured down a slope
horn called the dancers to the laughing waves.