At dusk at the abandoned Dallenbachs quarry turned deep lake in East Brunswick, New Jersey, Dad and I turned our attention from the bluegills to the bullfrogs. This was a new experience for me, and I was wide-eyed and expectant. Enormous frogs croaked, a loud, deep, rumbling song. Spying a bullfrog, Dad pounced just at the frog jumped under his shoe. Dad felt so upset about hurting the frog. I didn’t know what to do or feel. I simply stood quietly, then followed, quietly, to the car. Fifty years later, the memory has reappeared and found its way into this new poem.
Dad Leads Me on a Bullfrog Hunt at Dallenbachs
From reedy black bank-water emanated the rumbling
thrum that I knew, at four,
came from big bullfrogs. Even the bluegills
eluded our hooks, so we skulked the flank
because we could and because we were serious and excited
and on the hunt. I followed his point to two
gray spheres, an iceberg of frog flesh, its ears
metallic yellow discs just below. Two things
happened then, a concomitance in four
dimensions, the giant frog launching
a great leap, the big man’s
wet sneaker falling hard on the frog
sitting dazed, pink tongue bulging, while dad cussed
a grimace, I watched
and I listened and I knew both were
hurt, the soft body and the gentle mind,
and I did not move or speak
and I did not know what to feel
and I did not know how to help the bullfrog or
the father, hearing not a gravelly croak
on the long lake shore.
Roger is the author of Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road. The book tells the true life story of an obscure farm road and its power to transform the human spirit. The book is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon. See Rabbit Lane reviewed in Words and Pictures.