We’re transplants from the clotted streets of Brooklyn to a brand new tract home next to a Long Island farm. We spend the summer catching tadpoles in giant jars of stream water. We watch them turn into slippery and hard-to-grasp toads. This place is idyllic, perfect. But only for a minute.
Darkness sets in along with a tightness in my chest. The muck on the bottom of the stream grows like something in a horror movie. My feet are stuck but I break away, heart pounding.
Looking back, my best friend Johnny is caught in the muck. He turns into an enormous tadpole and I watch him disappear into the murky water. I scream his name until my mother comes. The only word I hear her say is polio.
falling from a tree the blue of a robin’s egg
Grandmother’s Pearls : An Anthology of Dream Poems
ed. Alexis Rotella