I hear old news: each new cicada's song
repeats scraped notes with no change I can hear.
Fidelity a million years can't wrong
rings through the muted trills that reach my ear.
When dinosaurs watched forest birds appear,
cicadas sang this song. These are the notes
that serenaded Celts who shaped these moats
in years when Rhône and Nîmes had Stone-Age names.
While I react to terror's newest "votes"
cicadas string their chants on ancient frames.
I've read a plane's been downed, all fliers dead;
each death a tragedy surviving news
that seeks and signals madness, til it's read
and superseded. Widows take first views
of loneliness, and red-cold rage pursues
newly-childless parents as they wait,
unseeingly, at the arrival gate
for this, another flight that won't arrive.
Cicada song and human news both grate
upon my ears, and ask why I'm alive.
I walk alone into the careless wood
and claim some shade, sit on a rough-stone wall
I share with ants and katydid. I should
find peace. It's hot. Cicadas call
in rhythms in which angry bombers could
imagine calls to action; or a parent might
hear announcements cancelling that flight
her children should have missed. They're dead.
Old news. Cicadas stop their song at night:
the silent time that we survivors dread.
Cicada Song appeared in two full-colour etchings by the artist Reina Pool and on the Poetic Peaches and Dreams website and in Plinth, Contemporary Writing, ISSN 1479 6384 in its initial issue: Issue One, 2003/4