The Alchemy of Youth


I lay my first pet bullfrog
belly up on a tree stump
under a cloudless sky in mid-summer,
then hurry off to gather bullwhips
beneath the only willow in the neighborhood.
Upon my return, I discover
he has erupted like a volcano,
belching frog lava upon
an entire village of native termites.
Both saddened and amazed,
I fill my grandmother's favorite washtub
from the hose that hisses like a snake,
place him on a magnolia leaf
soaked in gasoline,
then give him a Viking funeral.
As he drifts flaming out to sea,
sparks hatch into butterflies
I chase into the golden afternoon.

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