Losing Control Of The Toad - Poem by David Alpaugh
Down by the duck pond at Greenbrook Park
where we’d go summer evenings to catch
hop-toads—holding them between thumb
and finger so they couldn’t soil our skin
and give us warts—I told my five-year-old
playmate, Howard Golub: 'You killed Christ.'
I was simply passing on the indictment
handed down by Sister Ann at Catechism.
“The Jews, ” she declared, “crucified Jesus.”
Howie was a Jew. Ergo (though that word
never crossed my mind) he was as guilty
as Judas or Barrabas or Pontius Pilate—
or the dirty rat who hammered in the nails.
Howie denied the charge so vehemently
that I lost control of the toad
which peed all over my hand
and we both ran crying to our mothers.
Later that year as we played Sorry
in the glimmer of my Christmas tree
(the toads of summer having hopped off
stage to make way for elves & angels)
Howie got even with me big-time—
divulging the dark secret
his father never dreamed
would find its way
to little gentile ears:
“There is no Santa Claus.”
It was Götterdämmerung all over again.
Howie was even more certain
Santa didn’t exist than he was that
he hadn’t murdered Jesus Christ.
“My dad’s a Jew! ” he cried, triumphantly,
“and it’s against The Law for Jews to lie.”
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