you rock and reprimand, rock and groan

A year later you wonder how you ever loved him.
After all, you tell yourself, he was never more
than a frog, not even pretending to be a prince.
Even then, you think, even in those convulsions of love,
you saw the warts,
the leafslick spots, the cloak of slime:

he was silent because he couldn't speak,
motionless because he couldn't walk.
And yes, you knew it! Yes!
You only loved your own love, only
feasted on your own heart, only cherished
your own fondness for frogs.

But even as you rock and reprimand,
rock and groan, eyes shut in shame,
you remember the forest clearing,
the mossy lip of the well, the way the black water
fell to the center of the stone world,
a shaft of ice that split the grass,

and then there were ripples, circles,
animal honkings--rivet, rivet--
and your frog leaped out of silence.
As you sprawled on the lumpy ground, your own
reflection grew in the pool
where he rode like a toy boat.

You bent to kiss the water near him,
wanting to enter his cold glisten,
wanting to seize and wear him like a brooch,
wanting to swallow him as if he were a measure
of some bitter, alien liqueur.
Down and down you bent,

toward the emerald skin, the golden eyes,
closer than ever before
to your own wavering face.

[Sandra M. Gilbert {1936- }, 'A Year Later', from Kissing the Bread]

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