I will always remember the first time
I heard it—

that soft, wet rustling, which made me
think it was a large animal roving

the bracken. However, it was
of more enormous stature than

a single hulking creature, since
the mass exodus of the species made

their way through the already dewy
grass, traversing the meadow toward

the roadside pond, magnetized by
the hypnotic moon-reflected water.

From where I sat on the front
porch stoop of the apartment in

the barn, savoring the air of an April
evening, the mass evacuation

of them startled me into an astonish-
ment, as I quietly stared into

the darkness of the grass, shifting
with their springing through that

wetness, with their leaping over each
other, one after another, in such

an amphibian horde that it elicited
amazement at the veracity of their

mission. It precipitated awe in
the sheer dimension of the force

of their making the grassy darkness
shush in a slippery vernal migration.

Mesmerized with wonder, I watched
as the first ones leapt and dove into

the pond edge, splashing beyond
the reeds, breaking and re-breaking

that watery surface, as the throng
of them only made the moonlight

appear larger in its sheen, teeming
the surface with their prodigiousness,

as more and more of them flooded
in together to raise their voices

in a chorus, as if to match the watery
shine of lunar reflections, as they

sang for all their life, throbbing
with such aqueous rhythms, shrill

in their crying—this song of
the woodland frog, high-pitched

and quavering, often cresting, then
stopping and restarting in waves—

nature’s true falsetto, vocalizing
an impassioned celebratory trilling,

the piercing vibrancy of peepers
peeping in ponds in the spring.

Wally Swist’s books include Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love (Southern Illinois University Press, 2012); The Daodejing: A New Interpretation, with David Breeden and Steven Schroeder (Lamar University Literary Press, 2015); and Candling the Eggs (Shanti Arts, LLC, 2017). His poems have appeared in Appalachia, Commonweal, and North American Review.