Jenny Sampirisi
FICTION
 

Croak

Key Words

amphibian limb. amphibian deformities. limb deformities. pond. pathogen-mediated deformities. explained deformities. amphibian malformation. studies. limb segments. deformities. girl. polydactyly. abnormalities. limb object. atypical., untypical. nontypical. unrepresentative. rare. isolated. irregular, anomalous. deviant. divergent. aberrant. strange. odd. peculiar. curious. bizarre. weird. queer. eccentric. idiosyncratic. quirky. unexpected. unfamiliar. unconventional. surprising. unorthodox. singular. exceptional. extraordinary. out of the ordinary. out of the way. unnatural. perverse. perverted. twisted. warped. unhealthy. distorted. informal freaky.

 


Frog I

 

Missing back left leg.
Missing back right leg.
Extra foot growing out of back left leg.
Extra back right leg.
Deformed back left leg.
Unabsorbed tail.
Extra left leg.
Extra and deformed left leg.
One eyed.
Tail unabsorbed.
Missing left leg.
Deformed tail.


 

sing back .ft leg
sing back .ht leg
ex fff rows back .ft leg
ex k right leg
dorm back .ft leg
tadpole t. ever ab
ex .ft leg
mm .ft leg
one eyed fff
ail un.sorb
sing .ft leg
form tail

 


CHORUS

 

Brekekekex, ko-ax, ko-ax.
Brekekekex, ko-ax, ko-ax.
Brekekekex, ko-ax, ko-ax.

 


Frog I

 

Where is your husband.
Café Mably

 

Nothing new. We sit side by side at the table. There: one foot is encased in a boot but the other is in a slipper. Remember when we scavenged your foot and found all the girls sleeping between your toes. You said you didn’t think they’d been there long enough to snooze so deeply. We order cider and look at the cups when it comes. You’re never pleased with the cups.

you:      Pick up the cup
me:       It’s all fingers
you:      It’s a hollow palm
me:       A tree
you:      A wrist is a stump and fingers are branches
me:       I believe the people in here love each other very much
you:      You said that about the last café.
me:       Why do we spend so much time in cafés?
you:      Your silliness.
me:       Let’s eat something that isn’t liquid.
you:      A fork needs a hand.
me:       This cup needs a hand.
you:      Shame. Are there mouths that stand alone?
me:       There are mouths but none that stand.
you:      Can a liquid be eaten?
me:       A finger can be eaten twice. It’s both solid and liquid.
you:      Shut up.

 

 


 

Girl III

 

The extra one isn’t a problem so much as a document. It outlines another performance that might or might not happen hourly. Children gather around the limb. I wave all fifteen fingers then enter the café. There are men everywhere. They don’t notice me walk in. I order a gin and tonic but glassware is always a problem. I don’t know why I order anything that doesn’t have a handle affixed to the cup. Tea and coffee only. I can’t drink the gin and tonic. I have fifteen fingers for waving but none for drinking.


Frog I

 

this is odd. there are too many limbs. why limbs. why toes on limbs. why limbs at all. why fear of limbs. this isn’t deformity. where are legs. two legs. where are elbows. why nose. why canals instead of houses. why boxes. why not explain. why mention. why invite (invent). intent a cause for all these effects. there’s not a whole lot to muscle about here. this is odd. there are objects everywhere. object. object. object. did it break. did it grow handles. did the bone splinter. did the tooth chip. I know a good dentist. I know a good etymologist. an optometrist. I know the reconstructive surgeon. fuzzy moles. mossy skin. what music is playing exactly. how big was the arm. who notices.


Girl I

 

Let’s be honest for a moment. I’ve never enjoyed cafés but last night I drew a picture of this café. It looked ridiculous the way I drew it. I don’t draw well. I’ve had no training and I’m not naturally gifted. No. But I drew this café. Girl II draws, so I thought, this is something one number can do as well as another. My café looked underfed. All ribs. I don’t know how to shade things in and that’s the detail. Who can tell what’s a table and what’s a chair? I started to shade it in. I thought, okay, now I’ll decide what’s what here. I started shading tables and chairs. That’s the eating, you know. Puff out the objects. But I don’t have the skills. If I’m telling the hand to tell the pencil to make a door knob, and not just any doorknob, but the exact one from this café, than I need to know everything about that doorknob and how it looks in proportion to the room. This room. But right then all I had was the room I was in. That room didn’t happen to have a doorknob at all. And since we’re being honest, I find doorknobs boring. When I think of them as actual objects I have no idea of their artistic significance. My brain defaults to other images I’ve seen of doorknobs in movies. To my mind they always have keyholes worth peering through. So anyway, that café, the one I drew, didn’t have a doorknob. This café does. That’s honest. I stopped drawing because I didn’t know where to put the light. Who knows these things about where light goes in a room.

 


Girl II

 

I found a drawing early this morning, on the kitchen table. I used it to mop up my coffee spill before I knew it was a drawing. It seemed to me to be an image of a toad, if the toad were to fill up a whole room and if its warts were teacups and spoons and chairs and the general fillings of toads and rooms. I assume Girl I has been stealing my pencils. The one she used was too sharp. Unusable really. And I could see that she’d kept sharpening it so that it continued to be unusable. It never dulled down into something that might be useful. The world never looks that sharply focused. No. That would be hideous if everything was an edge. We can’t really see anything. Anomaly and imperfection are more believable. But not just believable, because I’m not always trying to be believable. It’s just the way it is. The coffee spill made Girl I’s picture better. It gave it a nice brown tone that blended the toad’s nose and lips in such a way that made it frown.

 


Boy I

 

A small overbite isn’t an issue I’m told. But this overbite is more problematic. There will be an eventual surgery for the molars. Rabbits have this trouble occasionally. If I were a rabbit someone would file my teeth. Rub rub with some kind of stone. I’m no rabbit. Girl III doesn’t seem to care about the whole thing. She keeps drinking her gin and tonic from my emptied coffee mug. She’s very pretty though and that makes me nervous about the overbite. She never eats.


Frog II

 

Go back to left leg. Stop. There are exactly two. It’s possible that you’ve neglected a third. Probable is two thirds. Stop. Are you certain this was always here? Reconstruct the shoddy work youknowwhat. Find data socket. Go back. Not to distract you but. to distract you. detract you but. stability is two legs working together.

 

                        It’s exactly
                        an exact
                        exit

 

 

 

 

 

Which slender and hollow do you mean?


Girl II

 

Maybe we’re lovers. There are many things we do that make us lovers. Girl I is a good cook. She cleans. She makes the tea. I buy the tea. She makes the salmon. I eat it and it tastes off. I open her mail and tell her how much the phone bill is this month. She pays the phone bill. She walks the dog. I walk the dog. We walk a lot. She would feed the dog. I would feed it. It’s the spoons that we have trouble with. She’s a good cook but I’m allergic to salmon. Something in the skin. It developed later in life after I’d already spent years eating salmon from cans and cartons. It happened with a particular fish that Girl I brought home. It was in a tank and it had two mouths. Both mouths opened and closed. Sometimes it floated to the surface, dead, and then a tremor would come. The tremor would start in the water. A shaking. Not the fish. But when the tremor came the fish would sink and come alive again. Its mouths would move together and separately and when they were open at the same time I could see deep into the stomach where it was pink and black. It would float again. Tremor again.


Frog II

 

Absorption is one particle moving across permeable boundaries. Skin for example.

 

 


Girl III

Digits 1-4: normal sized. full range of motion. fingernails.
Digits 5, 7, 10, 12: very small. fingernails.
Digits 6, 8, 9: very little motion. no hinges. fingernails.
Digit 11: absent but for a knuckle. no fingernail.
Digits 13, 14, 15: technically thumbs. fingernails.

 


 

 


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