Luke and the Frog: An American Fairytale OR What It Feels Like to Be a Parent in America

On the Monday after Mother’s Day, 
after another mass shooting, 
I pick up my daughter from school 
and on the ride home while she munches 
on veggie chips and looks out the window, 
she tells me a modern day fairytale:

“Luke killed a frog today 
at the playground
during recess
the frog was small
not a baby frog
a teenage frog
because he had a medium-sized body 
not a small body
a green & blue medium-sized spotted body 
Luke stepped on it & stepped on it
until there was blood
& the teacher had to call the frog ambulance
& Luke was put on the naughty list
& I was the only one who yelled stop! 
Stop! Don’t kill it! 
but Luke wouldn’t listen
& the others joined in on the stomping
& I yelled stop! 
but no one would listen
& they stomped & stomped
& killed the frog 
& and it bled red
out of its eyes
out of its head
& it made me sad
& can we buy the frog flowers
because when someone dies they should get flowers
& Mami, what if that frog was supposed to be a prince 
but now he’s dead
& now we’ll never know”

Copyright © 2023 by Jasminne Mendez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 5, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.