Two Poems

By Karen Elizabeth Sharpe

Nucleation of the Wood Frog  

In winter, the wood frog freezes solid 
beside the pond, buried in leaf litter. 

Crystalized skin and muscle. 
Heart stills. Lungs shut down.  

Organs dehydrate in the frog’s own sweet  
antifreeze. Pupils crust over. 

A biological miracle, the frog 
thaws from the inside out.  

Warm light emanating from within. 
Heart beats. Brain activates.  

Finally, legs move in search for love immediate: 
eggs, sperm, tadpole into another life. 

When I was a girl I adored the outdoors.  
The wood frog’s song. To hide in mud.  

Behind trees. Learned to trust the shadow  
beneath the fern, the places outside my father’s house.  

When I was a girl, I learned to shut down like the wood frog  
when my father strapped me raw with his belt. 

Now, at night, I lie still and quiet
a certain, unfrozen heart. 

Ode to Spring

Light dim as a nickel and yesterday, hail.
May’s flowers have eluded me.

All my days are interior, drab as mice
and yet the birds of spring collude to save me:

The pileated’s rumble, hammering
a hole big as a fist, echoing my chest.

Goldfinches highlight the feeder
squawk jays blue the hemlock.

Over the water swallows kitewing
and swarm, liquid black chip and chatter

and a vagrant scarlet tanager
chick-and-burrs the crabapple

while a million unremarkable sparrows
banter and chirrup, cheerup, cheerup, cheerup.