Frog and I sit opposite each other comparing belches.
Obviously Frog’s are louder. They rise up
through the pit of his gorgeously silky belly
like a thought through the swamp of consciousness.
Sometimes Frog and I try to hold hands
but his little webbed limbs end up sliding around my palm
like something foetal. Frog says what goes around comes around:
we’re born, we evolve, we hop from leaf to leaf
then we die. I have to be careful because Frog’s secretions
can be toxic, and there’s the danger his skin will dry
if we spend too long between worlds like this
mostly conversing but sometimes just squatting in silence.
I think it’s this that made me choose Frog—
his willingness to exist in two places at once.
Frog feigns a polite little cough and says that’s not all.
He settles himself into the hole I’ve dug, like an old man
on the brink of telling war stories, and asks
if I can imagine what it’s like to know ice-crystals are forming
in all your inner spaces, to wait immersed in mud
then surface in a new century. With a quick flourish he flicks
the snipped bit of his tongue and describes the time
he survived underground for—what was it again—a year? two?
(he croaks this last part as if he genuinely can’t remember)
in a cocoon made from his own shed skin.
Imagine that! He explains the process is called aestivating.
His throat inflates with a small triumph of air
and I realise this is what I love about Frog—
his ability to find the exact word for everything.