in march we looked for tadpoles.
found them wriggling like commas in the muck.
each a little inhale. i want a pause
not a body. green algae. a plastic bucket.
my father & i with the satellites on our backs.
carried them back home away from the pond.
outside our house we picked out our favorites 
& slipped them into our ears to hear them
tell us stories of their past lives.
one sang like a trumpet. another called
long & lonely egret notes. i laid on my back
as the tadpoles worked, sewing a seam 
between our bodies & theirs. earbuds pulling us
into & through old lives. one tadpole,
a shoe maker, asked me if i knew his daughter.
i lied & said we went to school together.
this helped him rest. i am still unsure 
if a lie can sometimes be useful if it helps
another creature rest. i hope the tadpole
never finds out the truth. 
they are all frogs now though.
by the time they are frogs the tadpoles 
forget all the oldness. speaks only of 
fear & hunger & out of the blue
occasionally, they will return to sit on our porch.
short shadows in the lamp light 
on a humid evening in july. i go sit with them.
i tell them. "we spoke when you were tadpoles."
they blink, unknowing. i used to think 
getting older was a deepening. a process
of wading further & further into a pond.
with the frogs here i know i am getting farther
from my oldest mouth. finally, the frogs depart.
back towards a verdant sleep. then, me too,
with my ears empty, crawling into 
a soft cluster of my own making. 

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