Saturday, September 7, 2013

Open Letter to a Cicada

Dear Cicada,
You fascinate me.
When I was a little girl I was afraid of you—you were too noisy, vaguely threatening. But you grew on me. It’s been a while, now, that I’ve enjoyed how your sounds line the hottest humid days with silver. You are part of what is magical about summer.
Then there is the fact that you can leave a husk of yourself behind. Brittle and empty, with such a clean slit in the back where you crawled out, fresh and new. True, the butterfly gets all the glory. You don’t get the same kind of beautiful transformation she does. But the ability to shed that top brittle layer—that is admirable.
These days, I love your wings. You are big, incongruous, clumsy. A ponderous insect with a ponderous body. But those wings! They are magnificent in their delicacy. I expect to see wings like that on a dragonfly. On you they are a surprise. Don’t take that the wrong way—it’s delightful. When I see you I know how it feels, that ponderousness. Tied to the earth. But you have those wings. And maybe if I can recognize that heaviness in myself I can also recognize something like wings, shimmering and delicate, that has the power to lift all that earthbound-ness right into the air. Something that flies. That’s a thought to hold on to.
Once, swimming, I had the sudden sensation that I was as long as the pool, stretched out and glinting with light. It must feel something like that to be water. Have you ever experienced something similar in the air? Weightless, thinned to a wisp, completely transparent—a small, cicada-sized gust? I wonder what that would feel like, to melt momentarily into the air. Does it reflect at all in the way your buzzing dissolves into silver?
Next time somebody encounters you on a sidewalk and shudders, or curses your infernal noise, remember me. I think you’re beautiful. I bet I’m not alone.
Yours truly,

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