February this year has been full of floods, I’m writing this blog as storm Dennis fills the garden pond to overflowing and South Wales Police have declared that flooding across the region is a major incident. All over the country travel by rail, air and road has been disrupted, but frogs have travelled from who knows where to spawn in the garden pond. Frogs appear every February as if by magic, it’s hard to find more than an occasional frog in the garden at any other time of year, but every year they emerge as though from some parallel universe and leap into the pond.
The water comes alive as the frogs, croaking softly like distant motorbikes revving up a hill, jostle and leap about as they arrange themselves in pairs, males clutching females, and lay clumps of spawn. A week or so later the frogs disappear and the black spots in the spawn start to wriggle and swim free of their nursery slime. In summer the tadpoles grow legs and lose their tails and tiny frogs hop into the flower beds and into the wild edges of the garden. The birds eat quite a few, but although that looks sad if all these small amphibians did survive there would soon be hungry frogs everywhere.
I remember being fascinated by tadpoles when I was a child, watching some I’d collected from a wild pond in a large jam-jar. I loved their lively wriggling bodies that changed shape as they grew. As their tails grew smaller and their back legs appeared I was told to take them back to where I found them before they tried to hop out of the jar.
The frogs are hidden for most of the year in damp and sheltered places in the wild corners of the garden and in the dim recesses of my memory. Here is this blog’s poem on full stops which mark an ending and also the beginning of frog life.
Full stops appear in clouds of trembling slime
and then becoming commas start to wriggle
into quivering exclamations that break free
and trace across the pond a series of cadenzas,
to graze amorphous specks of sunny algal bloom,
and taste decay in muddy ooze ecstatically.
Gathered up in jam jars full of childish hope,
half-forgotten on a kitchen windowsill
until the sudden legs break out, tails vanish.
Time to let them go and look for something new.
I left them in a grey and slippery place.
they hopped into the future to survive for years,
They stayed alive in tangled swamps
and waterfalls of wild connections,
fantastically emerging from the chaos
the long-departed tadpoles turn to frogs
they’ll jump across synapses in my brain
until my final punctuation;one full stop.