Joan Conway

Swamp Zone” by Joan Conway
from the 2018 Poem in Your Pocket Day booklet

That summer the swamp was our world
I rowed with my sister
among bulrushes and pond lilies
waxy cups, a floating garden
flat disk of leaves
platforms for dragonflies
black veined wings
iridescent in sunlight. 

That summer my uncle fried up frog legs.
‘Just like chicken’ he declared
them sitting on a plate coated in flour
at night I dream of slippery bodies surrounding the cabin
throat pouch ballooning taught
vociferous croaking call missing partners. 

My mother would stretch out
on smooth curved rocks
sunning herself
rubbing lotion on her creamy white thighs
wet and slippery
my uncle massaging oil onto her back
laughing down at her
and told us kids to go play. 

In the swamp zone searching for frogs
how they would lie perfectly still
if you stroked their belly
legs dangling open in some private rapture. 

Where I crouched
stranded amongst the reeds
long taper of leaves surrounding me,
closer to shore
roots left high and dry
by the end of that summer.