What Frogs Say by Katie Ellen Bowers

What Frogs Say

What Frogs Say

by Katie Ellen Bowers

Sweat, sweet and musky, has formed on my child’s brow and in the pits of her arms;
it is pooled beneath her shirt from running around outside, among the fireflies and
the tall grass. A hot summer breeze on the back of her neck, she squeals with joyous
delight when a frog hops onto the patio: one hop, two hops, three hops; my child, she
is amazed and scared, and she could bend down and scoop up the frog, hold it gently
in her hands, if she were quick enough—that’s what she tells herself, and really it’s
if she were brave enough to hold such a creature in her palm.

There is a boy, one she doesn’t know well, a boy with a twin sister, and she’ll tell me
that he was scared of water, of getting splashed by the girls; she’ll tell me that she
did not like him, that he was a bit mean. Later, she’ll tell me, her voice angry yet small:
    That boy killed a frog the other night.

    Ribbit. Ribbit. Ribbit.
This is the onomatopoeia for the sound a frog makes.

    Ribbit. Ribbit. Ribbit.
This is the way a frog croaks.

    Riggit. Riggit. Riggit.
This is the onomatopoeia for the sound a frog makes,
according to my child when she was two, and three, and four.

    Riggit. Riggit. Riggit.
This is the way a parent’s heart stutters when her child squats down
happily hops around the dining room saying instead

    Ribbit. Ribbit. Ribbit.

One day she will look up at the sky,
expecting the feel of cool raindrops upon her brow,
and instead she will be hit in the face by a frog
carried by a storm across minutes and miles;
the sky pausing to hydrate the earth with amphibians.

Some will splatter, their insides splayed on the ground,
and some will have died already.

Some, however, will be just fine; they will croak and hop:
one hop, two hops, three hops onto patios.

If only, she thinks, the frog could have gone unnoticed by the other children; if only she had
scooped the frog up into her hands; if only she had run across the yard to us—her curls flying
behind her, her smile wide, her sweat dripping down her brow and to her cheek—to tell us of the
frog, to ask us to come see it.

Then, she thinks, maybe the frog would not have been killed—smooshed, smashed, squashed,
squished—beneath that boy’s shoe.

If only frogs always said riggit.


Katie Ellen Bowers is a poet and educator living in the rural Southeast with her husband and daughter. Her work has been recently published in Qu Literary Magazine, Broad River Review, and The Dewdrop.

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  1. Lovely, memorable poem about innocence interrupted! Thank you, Katie Bowers.
    Wishing you continued poetic flow,
    Susan L. Lipson

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