Ian Reid: ‘The Escape’


The Escape
(after an etching by John Olsen)

What is he rushing away from, the scrawny frog?
A French kitchen knife? Unlikely. Those lean thighs
lack the succulence that first attracted
medieval monks, hungry for flesh but forbidden
to eat any meat, who devised a tasty dish
by simply classifying frogs as fish.
Some other predator, then, perhaps a bird
which (his grin shows) he’s managed to elude.

Or is there no menace? Nothing behind him to fear?
If there’s a safe zone, perhaps he’s in it already,
an imaginary stretch of beach between the flags,
shielded by lilypads like elevated parasols.
The sense of release may be its own reward,
a luxurious end in itself, merely the sheer
bliss of skinny-dip swimming, especially as it’s not
your classic froggy breaststroke: this guy’s arm
is lifted at the elbow, his webby digits
pulling him freestyle through the water, while
a turbo flutter-kick propels him forward.
It’s the true Australian crawl, streamlined and speedy,
apt for enrapt amphibians—our great escape.

Ian Reid

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