Cities and Frogs
after Italo Calvino
Entering the city of Amphibia, the weary traveler hears one word endlessly repeated: hunger, hunger, hunger. He walks out of a subway station and is greeted by a thousand bulging eyes that blink so rapidly they appear not to blink at all. The traveler keeps walking. Hopelessly drunk, tree frogs in torn clothes snore near sidewalk puddles, dreaming of their mothers. The traveler keeps walking. Across the way, a leopard frog wearing a mask leaps from the revolving door of a bank and disappears down a crowded street, followed moments later by three bullfrogs bedecked with badges and nightsticks. The traveler keeps walking, soon passing a slender female frog leaning near a dark doorway. The frog, wearing jewelry and lipstick, emits an alluring croak. The traveler stops. He checks his wallet and then walks toward the doorway with a $20 bill in his hand. Just as they enter the doorway, the rhythmic croaking of the city goes silent. A cold mist descends along the skyline, becoming glaze on the upturned eye of a tadpole asleep in his own begging cup. When the door closes, the croaking resumes louder than ever: hunger, hunger, hunger . . .
Graphic (detail) by Beki Borman;
click for complete image.