seven, ten, seventeen years
               away and interred, churning the fecund rot
until a soundless alarm directs them skyward

they emerge from their quasi-graves as nymphs
               molting to faeries, eyes wide-set,
membranous-winged cherubim from the dirt

they don’t burst anew as the phoenix,
               nor vengeful as a locust plague,
but nevertheless into the bright awful daylight they swarm

predator satiation it is called, the sudden scourge of
             cicadas everywhere, an arbitrary rout of the outer world—
they can eat some of us, but they can’t eat all of us

their infestation serves reminder of our surmountability,
            the sheer volume of their calls echoes
our species’ desperation to court, sing, mate —fly from death

and behind they will leave a new generation to burrow
            into the darkness, abide as we bury our dead among them,
listen to our songs of praise and mourning

and await their own go at the light.

-James Swansbrough

I have my BA from Davidson College and MFA from Sewanee. I was named Honorable Mention for the 2019 Yeats Poetry Award, and my work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cagibi, Cathexis Northwest, The Write Launch, and Please See Me, and the Free State Review.