Charlotte Muse has kindly given us permission to reprint this poem, the winning entry in the 2007 W.B. Yeats Society of New York Contest.
SONG FOR RANA
by Charlotte Muse
Epigraph: The frog (Rana; of the family Ranidae) is
disappearing all over the world.
Come back to our dreams with your cold and warty skin
your sideways eyes
your splayed hands clothespin-fingered,
the litheness of your open thighs
ballooning of your singing throat
We knew before the forests came
and went that you were magic.
We’ll look past your crude disguise,
we told you. Fetch the golden ball
and you shall sleep upon our pillows singing
We wove you in, we made you songs,
We thought you were unpleasant but we did,
A prince of a fellow, all in all,
we listened for you spring and fall
mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm
When it was midnight, I held my breath
and kissed him handsome.
He waltzed me to my room.
Kick you shoes off, do not fear,
bring that bottle over here,
he sang, and I did. Outside,
under a black and silver sky
the voices of a thousand frogs
rang like muffled bells.
But who needs the frog
when the prince is underneath?
we asked ourselves,
netting frogs from their dank ponds
by the thousands. We’d hand one,
pickled in formaldehyde,
limp as a potholder,
to any biology student
who’d mine for the giblet heart,
the intestines rolled neatly as socks in a suitcase.
Such uses they found
for your body, Rana!
We’ve seen what makes you tick.
We know what makes you croak.
And now you answer
with an awful silence.
Please. Don’t go.
We want you back.
We see now what we’ve broken.
We didn’t mean to break it
break it break it. We didn’t
mean to break it.
Copyright 2007 by Charlotte Muse