On Sunday I moved the tadpoles from the cheap plastic tank I'd bought at Petco
On Friday to the large sink in the laundry room in which I washed the dog
On rainy afternoons & evenings

I remembered when I'd been a volunteer at the animal sanctuary in Ann Arbor,
How we'd kept the clawed frogs in a sink in one of the buildings on campus
Not a temporary habitat, but their permanent home
How I'd fed them crickets w tongs
How they'd frighten me, jumping almost out of the water, so hungry—
The scary famished clawed frogs living in an animal sanctuary sink
Rather than whatever was their natural habitat, their native environment;
I never bothered to look it up

There were seven of them—the tadpoles; I'd ordered them from an educational website
Specializing in science-related gifts for children along with a microscope so Bruce and I could
Look at the river water and lake water on a slide along w each other's blood, the stems and leaves of wild plants, whatever else

I'd ordered them in better days
Seven days before, to be exact
When Bruce and I had spent the week riding our bikes from his house
To the river in the afternoons after he got off work,
large nets we bought at Cabela's in our hands along with our handlebars,
Our suburbia attempt at catching frogs—
A fifty year old and a forty year old, riding our bikes, acting like suburban teenagers

Of course, we never caught anything, just stood stooped over ditches, side by side,
On the river's edge, competing to see who could spot a frog first
Then scaring it away with all our whooping

By the time the tadpoles arrived in a box delivered to my door
By FedEx on Friday,
Bruce and I were again broken up

Yesterday, I'd made a plan to drive the plastic tank to the lake near my rental
where Bruce and I often walk to watch the muskrats at dusk,
to dump the tank in the water, to set the tadpoles free

I knew they'd probably soon be eaten
Maybe even by our beloved muskrats
But I didn't see a point in keeping them now that Bruce had left me again (tho he always claims it is I who leave him, just something else for us to argue abt)

But this morning I'd had another change of heart
What if Bruce came back?
Bruce always came back, even if it always felt like this time he never would

I couldn't bear the thought of Bruce coming back
And the tadpoles being in the river
In the bellies of the muskrats or snapping turtles or large fish

So I drove back to Petco to buy a net
And transferred the tadpoles into the sink
And dumped the dirty water into the grass outside where the mushrooms were growing

I stood in the laundry room watching the seven tadpoles swim up to the surface
And swim back down to the bottom again, trying to differentiate one from the other;
I couldn't

I didn't have internet at the house so I couldn't look up how long it'd take
For them to turn into bullfrogs

Couldn't do the math on how many times Bruce and I would break up and get back together before then
How long bullfrogs lived in general

I didn't have a plan for what I was going to do with them then

Once they were bullfrogs

I'd ordered them in a moment of heated passion, overcome w romance
All the bike-riding and walks in the woods to see the hawk,
All the searching for frogs
With Bruce

Idk why tadpoles seemed then like the most romantic present I could
Get my husband

I knew what he really wanted was a leaf blower
He'd shown me the one he wanted, the exact brand, at Home Depot many times
But I didn't like leaf blowers
They made too much noise and the book I'd read on longevity
Said it was better for you just to rake the leaves,
To shovel the snow, to push mow your lawn

All the advances we made that made our lives easier also shortened our lives, apparently

I'd tried telling Bruce this many times
He didn't care
He just wanted that leaf blower at Home Depot
And instead I'd bought him seven bullfrog tadpoles

And now they were living in my laundry room sink
And who knew how long this would go on
How long Bruce planned to stay away
Where I would put the tadpoles once they turned, magically,
Into bullfrogs

What the odds were I would end up living alone the rest of my life
With my dog and these seven bullfrogs I couldn't differentiate from one another

If the bullfrogs would get along or fight each other

If Bruce would ever stop ping ponging from one woman to the other
if any of the three of us would ever stop this madness

if a Home Depot leaf blower
or anything