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Poets, Gin, Bullfrogs
for Eve Triem 1902-1999
by Frances Ruhlen McConnel
The poet tells me her science writer husband
has found proof that the bullfrog
is not just a stage in a tadpole's metamorphosis,
but a new creature entirely.
She laughs with delight, thumping me
on the shoulder, not the one where the baby
has just spit up a blob of half-curdled milk.
The poet is working on the bottle of gin
she brought over on the bus
in her big sling purse. She's four decades
older than me. I'm in my early twenties,
with one kid still on the breast, so I'm drinking Tab
and trying not to drip on the other one,
who is shinnying up my left leg.
Their father, when he gets home from work,
will help her out to the car
and deliver her home to Capitol Hill
where he's getting to know the husband,
who also writes fiction for Weird Stories.
Outside, it's not the rain, dripping without end,
but the dark rule of clouds oppressing me.
And motherhood, except once a week
at Nelson Bentley's poetry workshop where Eve sits in.
We are both fans of Roethke's "Lost Son" poems,
which I don't understand, but which feed and destroy me.
She's a friend of e.e. cummings and can write
a publishable poem in twelve minutes
if you give her 5 random words to start from.
Though I get little of its meaning, just the lush and heady
blossoming of words, her voice like an oracle's.
But I'm thinking of that seventeen year old
fawn-eyed creature, wild with want and possibility,
whose body had been compared to a grail
in a note typed in red ink on a slip of frayed silk
by a boy who would be her husband
and how her breasts have become two huge fountains,
her eyes grown leaden from lack of sleep,
and her belly sawed with scarlet stretch marks.
The poet is thinking of Leda, Io, lunar moths,
Juniper berries, the sea.