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Cicada At Her Little Feet
by Richard Fein

She asked about cicadas.
She remembered from last year,
when in September the noise was loud,
but in October after bedtime, before she fell asleep,
she’d listen out the window only to rustling leaves
and heard not one shrill cicada note.
She asked about the cicada on the sidewalk
almost groveling at her feet
in yet another October.
She asked if it was going to sleep or die.
Die, I said, utterly honest.
She asked if it was lonely
with no one to sing to, or no songs to be heard.
“Probably not” I said.
Then she asked if each cicada had its own song,
like the seals she learned about in school,
where each mother knew her own pup’s call,
or were the cicadas’ songs all the same
so no one song mattered,
and only the big noise was important.
I said, “Probably the big noise,
now and every summer.”
“All the same song,” she said,
“like the school chorus where all the singers wear uniforms.”
I saw a meanness grow in her eyes.
She stamped her foot,
and I heard the shell crack.

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