Who Can Say


Who can say what streams
through the mind of a tree frog
the size of a thumbnail,
like the one that jumped
in my lap this morning,
landing soft as a garden pea.
I flinched, looked down,
saw the rubber midget
just before it sprang again
and sailed into the lawn.

Butterflies startle less
and stay longer,
(ladybugs too),
poised on your arm or leg,
wings opening and closing
as if in demonstration,
as if attention is the point
and life is sparing
a few fragile seconds
to help you understand.

Or not.
Maybe nature just makes
wrong turns now and then,
and what looks like a lesson
is only a fluke,
a single addled creature
veering into chaos.
It’s your world,
you decide.

Published by

Jean Ryan

Jean Ryan, a native Vermonter, lives in Lillian, Alabama. Her stories and essays have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. She has also published a novel, LOST SISTER. Her short story collections, SURVIVAL SKILLS and LOVERS AND LONERS, are available online. STRANGE COMPANY, a collection of short nature essays, is available in paperback as well as digital and audio editions.

7 thoughts on “Who Can Say

  1. I am so grateful to you, JR, for the grace and beauty of how you see the world. You remind me to be present, to breathe, to celebrate and find the wonder & joy in the world around me.

    1. And I think the name Lily is akin to Sondheim’s reaction to the name Maria; say it loud and there’s music playing, say it soft and it’s almost like praying.
      Jean Ryan is an Oracle. She brings people together. Hail, Jean Ryan! X&O

      1. Ah…☺️ Well, there is no more important effort than that. So happy that you are a part of my world. I value the art and anecdotes and grace you have brought into my life.

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