Cicadas, Monticello

Numberless, in cradled isolation,
they nurse their common fate.
Years, beneath cool pines, they wait
in their white silence,
finally, at once, in thick
surrender to the air.

We know that they are there,
among those roots, and yet
their sudden betrayal is always a surprise:
here for a picnic, we have instead a voice
loud as the dying brain, the clamoring
of rain at last windows. And thoughts
that are not ours consume the day:

“You, at the field’s edge,
where the grass grows pale and the trees begin
their mystery: it does not matter what you think.
See, already, your hair, the willow,
your hand, the spider leaning in the wind.”

Even into that current
where the dreaming child rows in its pink shell:
“Beautiful child, at your mother’s breast:
your milk, the swollen river.”

What do we answer them?
Their voice our own, and our own limbs
the cool pine’s roots.

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