I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you Nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us —
They’d banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
to tell your name the livelong
to an admiring bog!
This poem introduced me to Emily Dickinson’s poetry when I was required to memorize lines in elementary school. My dad actually tipped me off to this short piece which he also helped me memorize. It definitely qualifies as poetry, he told me, and was written by one of the best American poets ever. I remember feeling buoyed by his confidence as I recited the poem in class. I also remember the teacher implementing a minimum number of words and lines for the next assignment. No worries – my dad knew enough poems to fit every poetry exercise.
I thought about the frog poem in the early morning hours today when my faithful four-legged companion Carl and I made our daily check of the pool skimmer basket. We check the basket every night after dark thirty and do the re-check by the dawn’s early light. The pool attracts frogs of every size and shape because the water tricks them into believing it is fresh – like an oasis in the desert. Despite the frog log we have provided for the past five summer seasons of our time here, some of the frogs lose their way and opt to swim in the pool with the passion of a Katie Ledecky or Caeleb Dressel.
During several of our recent nocturnal inspections Carl and I have been able to rescue an assortment of the amphibious creatures who have been forced into the eternal swim of the skimmer basket. I am actually able to pull the little ones by reaching down to pull them out with a small iron handle I use to lift the skimmer basket. Carl shares my excitement when he runs around to sniff the stunned frogs but wisely doesn’t disturb them before he runs off to the doggie door, always hoping for a treat following his Coast Guard efforts.
This morning, however, we found a medium sized frog that didn’t survive the deadly chemicals we must use to keep the pool safe for humans. Two legs laid outstretched behind his little body as if to say hey what took you so long? I swam and swam – but “Nobody” did not come.
In South Carolina the summers are hot, hot, humid and hotter. Thunderstorms often strike in the late afternoons, early evenings. The frogs seem to multiply following the rains – their deep guttural sounds from the trees fill the night with the same noises I remember listening to with the windows raised in my home in Texas. The pond behind my grandmother’s house was quite the attraction. Thankfully not so deadly as our pool. But I never went swimming in that pond for as long as we lived in front of it.
Tonight Carl and I will make our rounds with our usual care…holding our breaths for no unhappy surprises.
I’m nobody, who are you? How dreary to be somebody, how public like a frog to tell your name the livelong day to an admiring bog.
Stay safe, stay sane, get vaccinated and please stay tuned. I’m beginning this month with the goal of writing 20 posts during the month of August. I’ve gotten a bit lazy this summer.
You’ll never believe this . . . Oh yes you will. This was the first poem I ever memorized and still can mostly quote. Miss Dickenson was down on frogs!!
The riding isn’t as good at the new farm. I miss the Skippack (Skipjack to you) Creek trails. On summer evenings as we rode along the tree lined creek trail, toads would pop out to alarm the ponies as frogs called from below the banks. Some of my favorite sounds from the trail.
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Indeed I will believe that we memorized the same “short” poem! That is how we ride.
And I know you miss the Skipjack trails. Those were some of the loveliest places I’ve ever seen. That’s funny about the toad warnings to scare the ponies – except if you were the pony…or the rider. Love to you all from the steamy (and sometimes seamy) south.
This is lyrical poetry Sheila. I was mesmerized.
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Cindy, bless you for saying so.