He usually writes about his routine
rising before 5:00 to weak coffee
scrubbing floors, painting walls
his one hour in the exercise yard,
or a dream from the night before
a fishing trip with his father long dead.

Today he writes about the bullfrog
in the alley behind his cell, 
it has survived winter,
has emerged from a weep hole
in a retaining wall, so large now
it may not fit into the hole for long.

He reports that management
cut down a rose bush
that has graced the yard for years.
Take heart, he writes, they cut
only the stems, didn’t know enough
to dig out the roots.

It is usually his regret that stays
with me long after the letter,
but today it is the frog embodied
in the small rock that I excise
from my garden, a damp bulk
that I lift toward the sun.

I give the rock legs, long and lithe
ready to leap out and over
up toward the warm light
but his heaviness resists,
draws inward, hardens
into an acceptance
of the dark safekeeping.

Photo by Mike Hindle on Unsplash

Gloria Nixon-John

Gloria Nixon-John has published poetry, fiction, essays and pedagogical articles and chapters in small and mainstream presses including Apogee, Clover, Dunes Review, English Journal, Panoply, River Teeth, Wanderlust, A3 Maps and Literature, The Bangalore Review, to name a few. Her novel, The Killing Jar, the story of one of the youngest Americans to serve on death row, was published in 2012 and her Memoir, Learning From Lady Chatterley was published in 2015. Her poetry chapbook, Breathe me a Sky, was published in 2019 by The Moonstone Art Center. Gloria lives with her horses, dogs, cats and husband, Mike in Oxford, Michigan where they are also visited by abundant wildlife.