Tuesday poem: Mouth brooding

April 30, 2012

Mouth brooding

In damp mulch, he swallows young like knowledge.
In a quiet vocal sac (now choked from croak)
they flow into commas, hoping to punctuate
the forest’s leafy library of tales. He spits!
Out pops a haiku of wiggle,
a soft finger of amphibian,
pooling into an anthology of puddle.
Seven froglet booklets, sprightly as thoughts,
swim towards their future. Must this language,
this webbed poem, be forever lost?

P.S. Cottier

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The mouth brooding frog, of Chile and Argentina, also known as Darwin’s frog, is related to the gastric brooding frogs (I am not making this up) that used to live in Australia but which are now presumed extinct. The female gastric brooder would swallow her young; the male mouth brooder does the same sort of thing, but in a slightly less thorough way. I believe there were two types of gastric brooding frog, both now gone, as recently as the 1980s. I have to check this, but I believe that the cane-toad which continues to munch its way through a lot of our wild-life, may originally have come from Chile, via Hawaii. (Our fault, not Chile’s!) So there’s another terrific amphibian link with that country.

Here’s a link to an Australian site with information about frogs and frog conservation. And an American one. You’ll have to google it yourself for elsewhere.

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7 Responses to “Tuesday poem: Mouth brooding”

  1. Not depressing at all. You have written it in such a sprightly delighting way. Love the pic…

    • pscottier said

      Michelle and Helen,

      Glad you liked it. The extinction of frogs is Australia is depressing though! Perhaps my lively description of the Chilean frog is an attempt to conjure up the ghost of Aussie frogs past…Cheers

  2. A. J. said

    I’m thoroughly depressed. I didn’t realise they’d gone.
    Great poem though.

    • pscottier said

      Don’t know if I should be depressed that I depressed you, Alicia, or happy that I have raised your froggy consciousness…It’s a dilemma! Definitely glad you liked the poem though.

  3. harvey said

    May NZ ever be cane toad free! I like the way the poem jumps around–it’s lively.

    • pscottier said

      Thanks Harvey. Yes I hope they never make it in from Australia. Canberra is probably ok, as it’s so cold in winter, but who knows how much they can adapt, over time? It’s an issue to me how some people advocate killing them in the cruellest ways possible, as if it’s their fault that they’re here, not ours. Scape toads.

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