My nephews seem to stir the ground with each step
as hundreds of frogs throw off green-bladed cloaks
and leap to taller grass, a silent retreat sounded
among their amphibious ranks. Evasion
their only maneuver, they best the boys
with wriggled slips from closed fists, from a cell
of interlocked fingers—spring of the hind legs,
slime against sweat, grip becomes ghost in the brush.
But the boys learn timing, work in tandem,
one chase, one capture, funnel to a bottleneck, surround,
master, the genius of the hunt roused,
the wire-barred crate soon thumping
with nervous hops. In them I see a hearkening
back to the first pursuit of animal by human,
a convergence of frustration and thrill,
the budding of strategy and innovation.
The oldest, just eight, asks, Will we use them to fish?
and their father nods, and they ask how, and learn:
a slice down the belly, chin to legs, pry open, hook
through mouth and eye, guts hang beneath.
No surprise, no shock in the boyish faces,
these new hunters return to inspect the prize;
the oldest turns as a hawk glides in to roost,
his brother peels apart crate’s leather-flap rear—
his mercy a faint rustle in the thicket.
While remembering the Waller family camping trip; October 27, 2014
Image: "A Boy Fishing on Rocks"
Oil on Canvas - Date Unknown
Henry Scott Tuke (1858-1929)