To a Young Cicada in August

I saw you today. You’d been left behind. Caught in the act of unzipping your old skin. There among the husks of your siblings, you gripped the maple tree, your body the color of new leaves unfurling. I saw your convulsive twitch, your jointed limbs. I witnessed your struggle to be born. That moment of leaving your armor.

We are not strangers. I know you from your song, August’s soundtrack, that vibrating sine wave. Your evening crescendo rises in the ears of joggers, gardeners, children at play on browning lawns. We shout to be heard from under the trees—or fall silent altogether.

I know you from your shell, torment of my childhood. Yesterday I lifted your kinsman’s carapace from a raspberry. My fingers shivered to do it. Recalling crackly monsters my brother left on my bookshelf, my pillow, my light switch.

I know you from your jittering bounce on the ground, a curiosity for the dog, an opportunity for the cat.

Once you appeared at my back door after I wrote a poem in which you starred. You looked up at me as if to say, You rang?

But I’ve never seen you like this, freeze-framed in the act of vaulting into your new shape.

Does it hurt, this slow-mo backflip into freedom? It looks like it would hurt.

Maybe it hurts like a foot gone to sleep, the flow of blood returning. Maybe you sense that soon, very soon, your new wings will dry.

Do you look back at your exoskeleton once you’ve juddered free? That hull too small to contain you?

I look into your unblinking eyes, and I think not. Perhaps it’s more like this: You climb, you rest, you open your wings.

The buzzing symphony pulls you to the treetops. You ready your instrument.

 

by Shawndra Miller

Mennonite by birth, mystic by nature, Shawndra Miller is a writer and community organizer who lives in Indianapolis. She is coauthor of Sudden Spirit: A Book of Holy Moments and is currently working on a nonfiction book about community resilience. Her work has appeared in Edible Indy, Indiana Living Green, Farm Indiana, and Acres USA, as well as Boiler Journal and Lavender Review.

Mystery

Electrons circle

protons, neutrons

of an atom’s nucleus.

 

Radio signal, steady

beeps fade out, long

distance voyager.

 

People talk as their

electric and magnetic

fields converge.

 

Atoms bond together,

make molecules that

form everything.

 

Lone dog left

in a cage wonders

what he did wrong.

 

Biosphere clings

to lithosphere’s roll

round an elliptical.

 

by Steve Hood

 

Steve Hood is an attorney and political activist. His work won an award from the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association and has been published in many places including Crack the Spine, Maudlin House, and the anthology Noisy Water. His chapbook, From Here to Astronomy, was published by Pudding House.

Finding Your Mind

I once walked calmly through the cold, dark woods

Not afraid of what could have lied ahead

Strapped to my cold back were my gear and goods

Far away from any cottage or bed

I went to be alone with just my mind

Needing some time for me to clear my thoughts

It was not long before my head aligned

And I finally got what I had sought

Walking this path taught me one simple fact

That in a place where dark and evil creaks

You always find what always seemed abstract

And you find out that you are not so weak

A place alone is a place to find peace

A place alone is for your mind’s release

 

by Trevor Tyma

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