Wednesday, December 21, 2005

oh, and one other thing

When my brother was about 15, he walked out onto our patio one night and stepped squarely onto a very large toad, who responded by dying instantly because all his bones and things were crushed into jelly. (My brother is a big boy.)

My brother felt really bad about the whole thing -- as, I imagine, did the toad -- and my mom wrote him the following poem, which I love. Her tongue is in her cheek, but I also think she identified his very real feelings of regret about the situation...

Reflections on the Death of a Toad

Alas, poor toad, whose only sin
Was to cross our patio…
The moment our lives touched
Was the moment of death for you.

How unseemly was the telltale crunch
As my foot fell in the darkness.
How gladly would I have stepped aside
Had I seen your stout toad body in my path.

What children, what widows are left now
To mourn your passing?
I hope you had time in your brief life
To sire several families.

To romp with your toadlets
Unfettered by the worries of survival…
I hope you basked much in the sun,
That many succulent flies met their demise upon your tactile tongue.

Forgive me, Toad,
For prematurely freeing you
From the great web of life.
I paused as I put your mangled body in the garbage can,
And part of me wept.

(c) 1982


At Wed Dec 21, 02:30:00 PM PST, Blogger unca said...

Thanks for brining back that memory. It is, of course, a wonderful poem. Better, I think, than the more famous one by Richard Wilbur:

"The Death of a Toad" (1950)


A toad the power mower caught,
Chewed and clipped of a leg, with a hobbling hop has got
To the garden verge, and sanctuaried him
Under the cineraria leaves, in the shade
Of the ashen and heartshaped leaves, in a dim,
Low, and a final glade.

The rare original heartsbleed goes,
Spends in the earthen hide, in the folds and wizenings, flows
In the gutters of the banked and staring eyes. He lies
As still as if he would return to stone,
And soundlessly attending, dies
Toward some deep monotone,

Toward misted and ebullient seas
And cooling shores, toward lost Amphibia^Rs emperies.
Day dwindles, drowning and at length is gone
In the wide and antique eyes, which still appear
To watch, across the castrate lawn,
The haggard daylight steer.

At Wed Dec 21, 09:25:00 PM PST, Blogger jay are said...

and would that be "big boy" as in tall and impressive. Right?
too bad about Mr. Toad. No more wild rides for him.

At Thu Dec 22, 09:05:00 AM PST, Blogger heatherfeather said...

okay this brought back a bunch of memories and bad feelings. (thanks for that by the way)

in georgia and new orleans, sometimes it's slightly humid. it all depends if your perception of humid involves SO STICKY YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE TURNING INTO A PUDDLE OF WATER. sorta like that crooked senator guy at the end of the x-men movie. anyhow.

i never walk outside barefoot because i'm a spaz. i hate my feet feeling dirty (see: sensory processing disorder). but i can't tolerate indoor shoe-wearing. so, in new orleans especially, there is a prevalence of slugs, snails, worms, and tiny frogs that wander aimlessly along the sidewalks. i lived far from the french quarter, so they were in the WRONG neighborhood for drunken debauchery. well, of the new orleans variety, but i digress. anyhow, i can't tell you how many times i stepped barefoot on these little creatures that HAD WANDERED INTO MY KITCHEN (they heard about my legendary lemon chicken and white wine, evidently).

every time, i threw up a little into my mouth.

and after 9 months of begging, my landloard finally installed weatherstripping on the bottom of the kitchen door which fixed the problem.

the moral of this story must have something to do with christmas, but i'm not sure how.

At Thu Dec 22, 06:49:00 PM PST, Anonymous si said...

well, heatherfeather brought up something that i didn't let myself think of when i first read this. i too rarely go barefoot outside (yuck stuff on the ground, you know). but one time i did step on a slug with my bare foot. it was more than gross (have to admit to being a "shriek-y girl-type"). everyone heard me around the neighborhood. in fact, i can still feel the sensation of that slimy, wet... (have to stop).

i did want to mention that this was a great poem written by your mom. but how far back do you have "stuff?" anything from the 70's? :-)

also, it's good that this brother doesn't have a blog (i think) so that you can use his stories for *your* blog...


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