Les Cigales (The Cicadas)
“Les cigales, les cigalons, chantent mieux que les violons”.
Les Cigales—Gerard, French Art song
After sixteen years underground the bugs
emerge, their butter brown wings sticky,
climb the nearest tree to dry and harden.
They lay their eggs in wet green oak leaves,
then sing for days and days until the singing
lifts them up to swarm and die, crashing
blindly into fences, trees and homes,
before their larvae creep down trunks of trees
to find a place below the ground,
and wait another sixteen years.
At sixteen a girl is emerging
from years beneath her mother’s skirts.
Her butter brown eyes dewy, her gaze
not yet hardened. She lies down
beneath the oak, weeps and weeps until
the rain begins to fall, then runs inside
the house, her room door crashing shut.
She crawls beneath the bed, a place
to wait until a first lost love disperses
among the evening song of the cicadas.
That Pomegranate Shine
Two brides arise from the river, shivering and shining
like pomegranate seeds.
—Words from an Armenian Song
I was the wrong kind of bride,
more sweat than glisten,
more peach than pomegranate.
At twenty-three, in love with marriage,
not the man,
I plunged into rough water,
bringing grandmother’s candlesticks,
mother’s books and two silver trays.
Ten years later, I emerged shivering,
dragging my ragged volumes,
one candlestick and two babies.
On the bank, I shook off the water
Standing with my children,
looking out over the river,
the new brides asked me where
I got that pomegranate shine.