Penny Perry

My husband collects women's smiles.

He dyes his hair soft black, shines

his shoes and confides, ''Nancy and I

may have a drink after work."


I used to catch polliwogs.

My nose close to moss,

I'd slip my hands in clear

creek water, curl my fingers

around the darting forms

and slide the polliwogs

in a jar.


They never looked as beautiful

at home.

They swam in tiny

circles in the roasting pan

I nestled under the avocado tree.

They seemed to miss the clean

stones, rush of water, the smell

of wild thyme.


They disappeared from the murky water

I had failed to change.

I told myself they had sprouted

legs and left the pan. They were now

frogs singing in my yard.


My husband comes home late.


Sitting alone in bed,

I can see the women's smiles

wriggling in his pocket.

I wonder

how long they will live.