Because pointing at the frog
is enough motion
to scare the frog away,
a man and a woman
place a pair of weather-beaten chairs
by the little stone pond
in the driveway of their rented cabin—
they are on vacation,
trying to get pregnant—
and wait, “like Buddhist monks,”
she says, for the frog
to reemerge from the pixilated water.
The man has yet to imagine
his child’s face. He’s not even sure
whether he’d prefer a boy
or a girl, and with a feigned
but private detachment,
tells himself that any wants
during the process (they may not
conceive, after all)
will lead to regret, and since
he can’t control things he won’t
worry about them. But
something about that feels like trying
to will a telephone to ring
by not thinking about it—
he used to do that in high school
while waiting for a girl to call,
and again and again he’d catch himself
glancing at the phone, or, more often,
he’d wish he were by the phone
instead of with his parents,
as on the Saturday night
in late August when his father
pulled into a field under a clear sky,
got out of the car, and walked
fifty yards into the waist-high wheat
to gaze up at the comet
he’d waited all summer to see.
The man remembers telling his father
that the purple cloud of light
looked like a big, beautiful
fingerprint smudge and then asked
if they could go home.
Irony, he thinks, was the only way
to hurt his father, and it’ll probably be
the weapon his child will choose
to hurt him with too—
so he imagines refuting his own child,
telling him or her that irony
and sarcasm can’t express wonder.
How do you plan to praise? he’ll ask.
And, at what will no doubt
be rolled eyes or a turned back,
he’ll add that there’s nothing brave
in tearing down the world.
Loving the world, now that’s brave.
By now the woman realizes
her husband doesn’t see the frog
glistening on the rock.
She nudges him, but it’s already gone.