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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