J. Robert King


Grandpa had been a job printer. He stood now beneath the maple tree and its sharp-edged embossments of leaves, and pointed to the empty amber shell that had once been a huge and grotesque insect but now was nothing.

“Cicada,” he said.

They came every seven years, like the plague of Exodus. And, as though Grandpa were some first-century felled cedar, I counted his rings in sevens: the last time the locusts had come, I was but seven, and the time before that, I was, not at all, and then, before that, it was ‘59, with the Great Society, and then, ‘52, when Singing in the Rain was made, and then ‘45, when at last World War II was done.

Four generations of these shell-shedding beasts had come and gone on the spinning world between now, when I stood in this postage-stamp yard with Grandpa amid the scallions and irises, and the time of the Bomb. Four generations. Or ten thousand mayflies since that bomb brought it all to an end. Ten thousand mayflies and three humans, my grandfather being in that first generation, and me being in the third.

When I am dead, in four more generations of cicadas and eleven thousand of mayflies, I hope there will be another generation of me to think back.

September 1st, 2012
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2 Responses to “Cicada”

  1. Joshua Says:

    Deep thoughts for a 14 year old. Or maybe just me at 14. Nonetheless, welcome back! Hopefully now that you have that Broadway thing out of your system we can look forward to more of your writing. Though I should admit, I haven’t finished reading all of your books I’ve acquired since 😉

  2. admin Says:

    Thank you, Joshua! It’s good to be back, and even better to know that folks like you have been waiting.

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