Peter Conners

The Great Undertoad of Cape Cod

I’ve had it pointed out countless times but still can’t identify poison ivy, or won’t. Grains of sand freckled with dry black seaweed. Illusory cerulean sky with single billowing pillar of cloud, more smoke than air: childish fears are amusing. My friend, Andy, grew up afraid of the great horny toad lurking to pull him under the ocean waves. Were there millions, thousands, or just one waiting for him? The one that counts, this fear of our names forgotten. European girls work the cash registers, the deli counters, nameless for the first time in their lives, trying out their American English slang – a crash course in the commerce of flip-flops and indolence. Only the itch is real. A tongue will never reach as far as the insinuation of a tongue, the pull of the ocean never as great as that of the word alone.