after “Le Crapaud” by Tristan Corbière (1845–1875)
Listen! There’s a song this airless night.
See that slice of shiny tin? Moonlight,
a cut-out backdrop of deep green dark.
A song: its vibrely creaky echo
from the rockery beyond the decking.
It’s shut its gob. Let’s have a dekko!
Toad! Why are you so scared of me?
I’m your faithful servant. Don’t you know it?
Just look at him: a baldy, wingless poet.
Junk-dump nightingale. Singing… horribly.
Well, is it really such an awful croak?
Can’t you see the bright glint in his eye?
No? He’s buggered off, crawled beneath his rock.
Old toady-boyo’s really me – Okey-Doke.
Cliff Forshaw’s collections include Trans and, most recently, Vandemonian, which pieces together a fragmentary history of Tasmania. A new collection, Pilgrim Tongues, is due in 2015.