I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow. They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen. They will devour what little you have left.
My daughter picks cicadas like apples
from the tree. This one cracked up
and that one is sleeping too high to reach.
She doesn’t know there isn’t a body,
all delicate shell and ghost inside.
What was is gone now. Their backs
split open like a stock photo locket,
all hinge and spine with no one to love.
Let’s look with our eyes, she says.
A blur of cicadas rattle an unpitched trill
in the distance. She doesn’t understand
the difference between sound and substance.
So I pretend to see what isn’t there.
Maybe their friends will come back
for them, she thinks. Let’s wait until
they wake up. She knows the solution
to death is an electric cord fed into the wall,
so what do I say when we visit the friend
who birthed twins but carried only one
baby home? My daughter cradles split husks.
Little soldiers line up on a root. She waits
for them to climb the trunk. There is life in this
flesh, a dream I don’t need to see to believe.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.