Saturday, October 27, 2012

Ci _ _ _ _ ; or, . . .

photoart: steve tomasko

Ci _ _ _ _;   or, They-who-must-not-be-named
by Steve Tomasko

The word cicada stops me in my tracks. Sorry. I simply cannot continue.
                                                                          —Billy Collins

It’s been a good year
for them. Those ci-
gar-stub-shaped insects
and their devilish red eyes.
With their portly green bodies
perched on trunks and limbs
they puncture the air above the ci-
ty with their electric trills.
As usual it’s the males
who bellow from their ci-
tadels at the top of a sy-
camore or other tall tree.

The female responds to the sy-
cophantic cry. They mate. She makes
a precise slit at the base
of a stem to deposit her eggs. 

Later, the stem falls to the ground
leaving behind a cica-
trix of her act, a blemish to mark
the spot. I’ve known people who
thought those calls were not  animate
but simply electric wires buzzing
in the summer heat. For some it’s a sick-
ening chorus. For me, the cries mark
the season. Just one more insect
doing what it needs to do—has done
for millennia without help
or hindrance from the likes of you or I
or those who can’t even pro-
nounce their name.

~ first published in Verse Wisconsin