Adulthood begins
not when as a nymph I emerge
from the underground where I have already lived years
but when I pull myself, vibrating and fragile,
from this shell already grown brittle
and too small.

Between my eyes, my body first splits open.
Unzips down my back like a cocktail dress
as I wriggle out my head. One desperate moment
as wing buds catch and (my heart in my mouth
what if I never get free)
I flex and arch for sky, four membranes suddenly blooming
from my shoulders.

Hollow legs cling at last to discarded exoskeleton.
A pause to catch my breath, soft flesh hardening
in first exposure to the sun.
Before I go, I will arrange my leftovers
carefully in a chair at the family table,
disguising my departure as long as possible.



[Image by Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE – Molting Cicada (Cicadidae), CC BY-SA 2.0]

21 thoughts on “Cicada

  1. You have just given me an appreciation for the fact that humans do not pupate. Exoskeletons at the table? I shudder when my son leaves his underwear lying on the floor. That would no doubt kill me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I was a kid, we had summers where the cicada shells were EVERYWHERE. My brother and I used to collect them annd use the little grippers on their feet to hang them off the front of our tshirts. My record was something close to 20 cicadas hanging off me…

      Of course, as a kid, I thought the grossness factor held much of the appeal!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My Dearest Cicada,

    When I was 3 years old, “The Swarm” of 1987 began. My mother tells me that I cried when I saw the “disguises” because I thought they were lifeless. You can arrange your leftovers as carefully as you want, but I, WE, all know that your departure is glorious.


    Grown Up Bae Who Knows That It’s Just Your Exoskeleton

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are moments, Bae — and now is most definitely one of them — when I strongly suspect that you and I are actually twins separated at birth.

      Well…at birth and also by about 14 years, but that’s how fairy tales go sometimes.

      Liked by 1 person

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