The apartments were built on an old wetland I guess but no one had told the toads about the new landlord and that summer they sprang up and spread like rain. I never learned know how or where from—lord knows I looked. They were just there one night and for the nights that followed.
I remember seeing under the light of a distant streetlight, mounds of shadows wiggling and hopping. I’d catch them. It was easy. They were bigger than my hand. Expressionless, they’d look up at me and piss. That was their defense. I learned quick how to catch them and hold them so when the inevitable stream came, it would miss me.
In the morning there was carnage. Flattened toads carpeted the roads. Hundreds flattened under car tires to a pancake , to cook solid and dry in the sun by the next night when more toads would come.
I never had another summer like that. The toads came back for a year or two, but never in those numbers. And then they didn’t come at all. Nothing. Never again.
I think back on that summer and wonder at it and mourn. As an adult I read that amphibians are among the most sensitive species on the planet, one of the first to suffer from a weakened environment. That was my first sign. The missing toads. The effects of my species on another
What makes me remember those toads now so longingly, so wistfully, is I remember seeing also under that distant streetlight in my childhood, swarms of moths. The light was clouded by fluttering insects. I suppose that’s whey the toads were there to munch up the low fliers.
The moths lasted longer than the the toads. They followed me to other houses, but now too, they are gone.
I remember not being able to open a patio door for fear of a hundred getting in the house. Patio lights a were shadow plays under talcum wings and head butts, misidentifying a sixty watt bulb as the moon.
I haven’t seen moths in years.
The toads and the moths— their fates were the same.
We too must be on the list.
This is anecdotal. This is personal. This is tragedy.