by Kenneth Elliott

I took her to the marsh edge
at night's threshold.
The frogs cricked and moaned
and I was flustered and apologetic.
"I wanted to take you someplace quiet."

She adjusted her shirt,
cocked her head, and smiled.
Crickets sawed their legs off,
and some kind of water bird
screamed in the distance.
Screaming.  Screaming in the distance.

I'd hoped for a peaceful settling of night.
I would have peeled cloth
so softly she could not feel it.
I would have kissed her then, the only sounds
our sliding skin and the strange things
mouth and tongue will do to air.

The frogs croaked and bleated,
held weather in their mouths,
all skin and chin-sac.
Their tongues flicked,
didn't quite retract.

She said, "Sit with me,"
but I fastened fist to hip,
paced to the water's edge and back
and never did lie quiet.

I would have taken her here,
would have let her take me,
if not for the frogs,
a wet nation of princes
mocking us with mimic groans,
watching with amphibian eyes.

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