Cicadas

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Cicadas

Cicadas

In retrospect, some childhood play was more dangerous than we ever knew.

"Cicadas" by Michael Salinger

so thick
they were snow-shoveled
from the sidewalks on public square
my grandfather called them Canadian soldiers
but the thumb-sized black and green bugs
hadn’t flown across lake erie
they clawed up from the soil
after seventeen year sleep
claim staking the world
for ten summer days
filling the stagnant air with static
then they died
leaving
empty shells
translucent chrysalis
split along the back
clinging to trees
and brick wall
their bodies
crunching under foot
and bus tire
downtown in front of higbee’s
a doorman in a red coat
yellow trim at the cuffs
polished shoes
clears the entry
scrape of steel on concrete
white swath cutting through
the buzz-clicking mass
as if shaving a living beard
years ago
back when
playing with
mercury
on the black-and-white-checkered
asbestos-tiled kitchen floor
was not yet
dangerous

"Cicadas" by Michael Salinger in I Have My Own Song for It: Modern Poems of Ohio edited by Elton Glaser and William Greenway. Akron University Press, 2002. Used with permission of the author.

Michael Salinger is a father, poet and educator who travels the world promoting the use of poetry as a literacy tool in classrooms.