Jamaal May


Finding a dead frog in the freezer
causes a woman to question the wisdom
of telling her son GE stood for God Engine—
a mystical device,
a kind of suspended animator
that keeps strawberries plump and peaches fuzzy
while fly-dotted pears rot,
corpse-soft on the table.

Mother, imagining the amphibian
drifting on a lily-pad down the Puddle Styx,
covets youth and its fantasies
that spring up like wolfberries.
Why else would she lie? Her son
assumes he has a cruel mother
that wants him to help prepare
a shoebox casket, line the sides
with wads of tissue,
some still damp with tears.

When the burial plot is complete,
the woman drags a trowel
across her apron until it shines enough
to display the narrow reflection of her face,
crows feet clawing towards eyes,
grey hairs invading bushy eyebrows.
She considers telling her son the truth,
all will reach the pear's destination,
decay is a constant ferryman.
And if forgotten,
everything in the freezer will burn.