Terry Lucas

Dear Frogs of Pinckneyville, Illinois

Forgive me for all the times I forced you 
into Welch’s Grape Jelly jars filled with cotton balls 
soaked with ether from my father’s starter fluid can 

he sprayed into dead diesel engines  
on frozen December mornings. I am truly sorry 
for not throwing you higher. Please know that I wanted to

put you into orbit like Belka and Strelka, the first 
warm-blooded animals to trick gravity and return
alive, but my nine-year old arm wasn’t strong enough 

to launch you over the peak of the barn’s roof 
crumbling into itself in the vacant lot next door.
I tried again and again as you tumbled behind glass 

like green-clad daredevils in clothes dryers.
Naturally, I performed post-mortems, the point
of my mother’s sewing scissors fitting perfectly

into openings seemingly created for entry. I squeezed 
your rough sides to lift your white bellies, avoiding injury 
to organs when I opened you up. You voiced no objections

when I showed the neighbor kids your digestive systems, 
the contents of your stomachs, your kinked intestines—
totally in the interest of science. Like the other animals 

slain so humans could travel safely to the moon. 
I am sorry for them too. But not as much 
as treating you as if you were created for us 

to experiment on in order to protect those mothers’ babies 
who grew up to be astronauts. As if the empty womb
of space wasn’t holy. As if you were not.  

 (Previously published in Dactyls & Drakes)