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Tradition & Innovation

Prayer for the 17-Year Cicadas

close up of cicada with transparent shining wings tinted green, body blue, eye looking straight at camera. Cicada is shown upside down clinging to piece of wood.
Soon
they will tunnel their way up out of the ground,
millions of them
screaming their mating song,
landing in our hair.
We will curse the noise, 
the swarming of locusts
as if it were the eighth plague,
when really we should bless them all—
their proof that everything is as it should be.
 
The 17-year-cicada knows nothing 
of this mess we’ve made,
our firearms, our cracked ozone,
our White supremacy.
It only knows that after 17 years underground,
It is time to emerge, make ecstatic love, lay eggs,
die.
 
I tell my 17-year-old son,
the willful atheist,
of the days when I pushed his infant stroller
along the sidewalks of Baltimore,
their exoskeletons crunching beneath the wheels.
How I wondered what my baby boy 
would be like 
the next time they rose out of the earth
to greet us, 
knowing that without fail, they would.
 
I tell him that maybe this is what we mean 
when we say the word
God.

Photo by Shannon Potter on Unsplash

 

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