Local poets capture the cicada buzz

John Kelly
Columnist June 5, 2013

If you read my Tuesday column you know that many areas around Washington won’t see — or hear — any Brood II cicadas. For those of us who don’t live in the cicada zone, these poems will have to suffice.

John Kelly writes "John Kelly's Washington," a daily look at Washington's less-famous side. Born in Washington, John started at The Post in 1989 as deputy editor in the Weekend section. View Archive

I was partial to this moving verse from 15-year-old Patricia R. Crozier of Dumfries:

We sing for the birth of a new generation,
Sing for the life that swells up from the ground.
Singing to guide the ones who still struggle,
Still breaking the ropes that are pulling them down.
Rising like sap — like the sap that has fed them,
Feeling the tug of the earth as it turns.
Waking the pulse of some forgotten promise,
To echo within them and bid them return.
What is this force that is pushing them upward?
What is this hope that these creatures all sing?
It’s faith in the sunlight and faith in tomorrow,
And faith that persistence will one day grow wings.

A Washington, D.C. mother duck and her ducklings have decided to call 9th floor Pennsylvania Avenue lawfirm, Crowell & Moring, home. The firm built a special ramp as well as provided a swimming poor and food for the duck family. (John Kelly and Sandi Moynihan/The Washington Post)

Springfield’s Manuel Pablo titled his bittersweet poem “A Life of a Thousand Cuts”:

I sympathize with the oak in this cicada season.
In normal times we see its strength
Enjoy its shade and listen to the wafting winds
As they tease of ease on a warm Summer day.
But now it must endure the cyclic cuts
Of nymph and larva and lust-filled see-through wing
While silent showers of times to come rain down
On husks of pasts returned.
My life is like that oak we all admire
Resplendent in the August sun
But there are times not regular but sure
Of past hurts, regrets and tears.

Let’s improve our mood with a pair of limericks:

Every seventeenth year, their ascent is
Sure to make us all non compos mentis
By their deafening need
To find partners and breed.
Their assignment: In locusts parentis.
Nan Reiner, Alexandria

A Magicicada named Bertie
had sex with a female named Gertie.
She “flagged” my pear tree
and her offspring will be
appearing in year 2030.
Alan Zirkle, Fredericksburg

Who says humans and insects can’t bond? Barbara Young of Greenbelt felt a kinship when cicadas last visited her, in 2004:

Dislodged by the broom
the cicada made that
distinctive noise — not a rattle
exactly, but like a rattle;
objecting to the disturbance,
its orange eyes seemed bigger,
even more orange, as
suddenly, surprising myself,
I knew I loved that poor creature
and wished it to survive.

Here are a pair of haiku and a fine 10-line poem:

Those who most enjoy
the clatter of cicadas
are hard-of-hearing.
JoAnne Growney, Silver Spring

Seventeen more years?
Don’t bother to look me up,
I may have moved on.
Elaina Palincsar, Alexandria

Ruby eyes
Staring
Bright
Wings of lace
Gauzy
Light.
And when you sing
Your song of love
Do you commune
With God above?
Carol P. Dorsey, Bethesda

I’ll close with two poems from Washington’s Mae Scanlan, a frequent contributor to the Style Invitational. Here’s the first:

I think that we shall shortly see
On every house and car and tree,
Cicadas, singly and in bunches.
Furthermore, my learnéd hunch is
They will drive us up the wall
With each and every mating call.
The noise of one, one tolerates,
But that of millions? Well, that rates
Right up there with the sound you get
When near a moving jumbo jet.
They’re not a sight for any eyes,
Sore, or “your,” or otherwise.
God made lovely trees to shade us,
But....he also made cicadas.

And the second:

The experts are wondering why
Cicadas just eat, mate, and die.
It sounds so confusing,
But when you start musing,
Is that not what you do, and I?

See you in 2021.

Fine, feathered friends

If one had to think of the most lawyer-like animal, it would probably not be a duck. A shark or a leech spring to mind.

But the staff at Crowell & Moring, a law firm on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, is duck crazy. The mallard I wrote about last week is finally a mother. Her eggs hatched Tuesday afternoon.

When I paid a visit Wednesday morning, Momma was parading around the ninth floor terrace, her feathered offspring dutifully following her.

Various employees gazed through the conference room windows, barely able to handle the sheer cuteness of it all. It was as if someone had taken a big syringe labeled “Awwww” and jabbed it into their hearts.

Mother and ducklings — 10 in all — are doing fine. Because a ninth floor terrace is not a safe place to raise a family, the ducks were removed Wednesday afternoon to Rock Creek Park. I’m sure they enjoyed their brush with the law.

For a video of the ducklings, go to washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.

For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.

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