Prince Among Frogs

by Anca Vlasopolos

it was the time of bestiaries
books in the languages of flowers
when Philomela still broke her heart
on high in Greek

so as she walked, solitary, playing ball,
she didn’t look around, as we might do, for
cows escaped from pasture
she feared a gentle bull whose hooves
would thunder her away

so yes, she said, yes, anything,
her satin slippers soaked on marshy ground
giving her cold feet

that night, she thought her father’s tankard, raised,
would come down on her suitor, but it smashed
leaving a gash on oak
greyhounds shivered under foot
its bolt against her head
she was taken to the chapel, fast,
by weeping nurse, fast to her chamber

her father posted guards -- "faithless like a woman" --
he spat, "behead her instantly she disobeys her lord"

the frog sat on her table
"caress me," it began
she put her hand out, jerked it back, burning
with touch of skin clammy wrinkled
"kiss me," it croaked
and watched with bulging eyes
her running zig-zag, her hitting impossibly high casements

she came at last
lips stretched as far as she could pout them
from herself
it darted its long tongue inside her mouth
impaled her like a fly

"incubus," she moaned, opened the door
and saw the guard run finger over blade of ax
"I am beshrewed, beset by demons!
Mother!" she called, remembering
her mother shut up in a turret, then dead
a story of not choosing right between two roses
"now put me on your white and narrow bed"
this time she ran to have herself beheaded
the door was barred
she pounded with head and fists
until she thought
seeing blood run along the wood
"good, I am dying"

she woke, a pressure
on her mind
the conqueror frog
squatting on her head
she wiped it off and stood
heaving, "monster, misery"
she picked it by webbed foot, flung it
against the wall
sank to her knees, eyes shut,
fearing discovery less
than the green-yellow splatter clinging to the stone

she felt warm hands on hers
and someone lifting her
a voice melodious chanted, "and now to bed, my love"

with underwater kisses that made her learn to breathe
through pores, fine sweat making skins glisten
he permeated her
like water
as she succumbed
to that more stinging tongue
inside her
she thought this one came, they chose this one,
him I could not pick up by a foot
dash against walls

Anca Vlasopolos is the award-winning author of The New Bedford Samurai (nonfiction novel), published by Twilight Times Books, 2007, and has sold over two hundred poems and short stories to literary markets such as The Rambler, Goblin Fruit, Porcupine, Typo, poeticdiversity, Perigee, Poetry International, Barrow Street, Adagio, Avatar, Terrain, Nidus, Short Story, Natural Bridge, Center, Evansville Review, Santa Barbara Review, River Styx, Spoon River Poetry Quarterly, and Weber Review. Anca's favorite fruit is the cherry, with persimmons a close second.
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