The Toad

Alice Friman Click to


Alice Friman has new poetry forthcoming in Ploughshares, Georgia Review, and Negative Capability. Her sixth collection is The View from Saturn, LSU. A new collection, Blood Weather, is due from LSU in 2019. She’s the winner of many awards, the latest, the 2016 Paumanok Poetry Award. She lives in Milledgeville, Georgia, where she was poet-in-residence at Georgia College.

Yesterday I found a desiccated toad,
sucked out and weightless.

Each toe – long, curved,
delicate as eyelash. The twin
eye sockets, the slit of the mouth,
the froggy bend of the back knees
flexed to jump. Only the insides
were missing. The wet batteries
of the body’s workings. The juice.
The amazing tongue.

Like the princess in a tale,
I carried it upstairs.

In what hour of the night
and by whom
was the deed done? The slurp
of flesh drained out as if drawn
by a straw, leaving a carapace
for the sun to mummify
on my doorstep.

I am waiting for the toad
to answer. Shell of a stolen life,
empty as a dinner plate, empty
as the sky that looked down
on the making of this knick-knack,
this siphoned-out perfection.

Gently, I place the toad
on my pillow. Do not laugh.
I expect much from the dead.
Unlike the princess who never
sat waiting in a hospice room,
I’ve had practice, kissing the silent,
vacant clay – warts and all.