Iowa Writes

MARK EDWARDS
From "Frog Holler Iowa"


Wandering toward the leafless trees out on the lobe, I scan the scene with crossed eyes. Purposefully not focusing, I prowl as if submerged beneath water, settling into the place and moving blurry-eyed to a boulder outlook.

Sitting beside a deformed overhanging oak left alive after the logging 100 years before, I find myself still misty-eyed facing the river valley. Behind me lay an Indian mound wounded by grave robbers. Three large trenches are left open after the contents were carried away or discarded. The scarred soil shoveled to the side covers my resting place.

A stone's throw below the slope leaks a spring-fed marsh on the winter-worn bottom land. Various semicircles of rust-brown to grey vegetation wrap around the wetland. A toad-green glow of sedges and duckweed speckles the pond's back.

Wiggling into my surroundings I place my hands flat on the forest floor. With eyes closed facing a spring sun, something squirms moving into my skin from out of the hill. It pushes from its hibernating hole and wraps itself in my hand. I begin rubbing and warming it unconsciously as a hawk screams for my attention.

The object is oddly shaped, and some kind of fossil form comes to mind. Cleaning the crevices I find layers left like a stone rolled in mud and moss. I see a rock sculpture slightly smaller than the size of my fist with a pebble stopper stuck on the end of a bent thumb. As I scrape the scab from the knuckle the blood of the earth pours into my lap. Red ocher, iron oxide and sacred sand-like stuff drains down between my legs.

I cross my eyes again and hold it out at arm's length. Silhouetted on the horizon sits a frog. I laugh out loud. I freeze. My internal dialogue stops. I feel funny. It really does resemble a frog. Perched on my palm the two front legs are straight, holding the regal head high. The hind legs remain tucked, ready to move back to common ground.

Wandering toward the leafless trees out on the lobe, I scan the scene with crossed eyes. Purposefully not focusing, I prowl as if submerged beneath water, settling into the place and moving blurry-eyed to a boulder outlook.

Sitting beside a deformed overhanging oak left alive after the logging 100 years before, I find myself still misty-eyed facing the river valley. Behind me lay an Indian mound wounded by grave robbers. Three large trenches are left open after the contents were carried away or discarded. The scarred soil shoveled to the side covers my resting place.

A stone's throw below the slope leaks a spring-fed marsh on the winter-worn bottom land. Various semicircles of rust-brown to grey vegetation wrap around the wetland. A toad-green glow of sedges and duckweed speckles the pond's back.

Wiggling into my surroundings I place my hands flat on the forest floor. With eyes closed facing a spring sun, something squirms moving into my skin from out of the hill. It pushes from its hibernating hole and wraps itself in my hand. I begin rubbing and warming it unconsciously as a hawk screams for my attention.

The object is oddly shaped, and some kind of fossil form comes to mind. Cleaning the crevices I find layers left like a stone rolled in mud and moss. I see a rock sculpture slightly smaller than the size of my fist with a pebble stopper stuck on the end of a bent thumb. As I scrape the scab from the knuckle the blood of the earth pours into my lap. Red ocher, iron oxide and sacred sand-like stuff drains down between my legs.

I cross my eyes again and hold it out at arm's length. Silhouetted on the horizon sits a frog. I laugh out loud. I freeze. My internal dialogue stops. I feel funny. It really does resemble a frog. Perched on my palm the two front legs are straight, holding the regal head high. The hind legs remain tucked, ready to move back to common ground.

Cradling the critter with both hands we look cross-eyed at each other. Unfocused, I see the nothing of an empty mouth. The lipless opening is the size and depth of my little finger. I peep into the orifice, my jaw slack, as attention turns to stone. Stuck in the throat of the creature was a smaller face carved inside with two dark eyes and a giddy grin on its frog face.

I blow forcefully on the flytrap to clear the passageway. By blowing over the hollow my baited breath shears in two—to sound. I mean it whistles. I blow harder. My wind blown away returns sharply in a gasp when the red ochre tailed hawk shrieks in agreement.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


MARK EDWARDS

Mark Edwards is a DNR worker who lives in Madrid, IA.

"Frog Holler Iowa" appears in issue #13 of The Wapsipinicon Almanac. Since 1988 the almanac has been edited by Tim Fay and published at his Route 3 Press in rural Anamosa/Monticello. Each issue features a mix of fiction, reviews, essays, poetry, art and homey information, packaged in the format of a folksy, old-time almanac. Issue #14 is now on sale.

The Wapsipinicon Almanac

This page was first displayed
on January 14, 2008

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