Toad dreams

That afternoon the dream of the toads rang through the elms by Little River and affected the thoughts of men, though they were not conscious that they heard it.--Henry Thoreau

The dream of toads: we rarely
credit what we consider lesser
life with emotions big as ours,
but we are easily distracted,
abstracted. People sit nibbling
before television's flicker watching
ghosts chase balls and each other
while the skunk is out risking grisly
death to cross the highway to mate;
while the fox scales the wire fence
where it knows the shotgun lurks
to taste the sweet blood of a hen.
Birds are greedy little bombs
bursting to give voice to appetite.
I had a cat who died of love.
Dogs trail their masters across con-
tinents. We are far too busy
to be starkly simple in passion.
We will never dream the intense
wet spring lust of the toads.


Marge Piercy, "Toad dreams" from Stone, Paper, Knife (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983).  First appeared in Mid-South Writer 2 (1981).   Copyright © 1981, 1983 by Marge Piercy and Middlemarsh, Inc.  Used by permission of the Wallace Literary Agency, Inc.
Source: Stone Paper Knife (Alfred A. Knopf, 1983)
More Poems by Marge Piercy