--For my mother
--Irma McMahon Kelly; 1913-2003
My father and I linger in the belly
of a van. Staring into dense laurel
I tell him, This could be her last night.
I know, he replies. Streetlights spill
slender light, the van’s engine
I am set loose in 1955
onto a thumb of land between lake and bay.
Dad owns the steering wheel.
The shiny cone of our ’51 Studebaker glides
through a Wisconsin night. We have just seen
“Carousel” at the drive-in theater. Windows
welcome night air. Mom threads her arms
into a sweater and I hum between two dozing
brothers. When the car slows, rolls to a stop,
our legs wrestle wool seats and we spring up,
car rules suspended. Flying—through our wide
beam of light—Frogs! Leaping, landing. Leaping,
landing. Hundreds! Dad bellows. A circus,
Mom laughs. We are crazy with this caper,
hopping, hooting, clapping. Buoyant,
we are family, dancing with frogs.