Brood X Symphony (The 17-Year Cicadas)

by Jackie Oldham

May 23, 2021


Sunday morning, 9am
and already 79 degrees.

Silence broken
by the one-note symphony
of cicadas singing from trees.

But there’s a soloist
whose song rises above the rest—
an urgent fifth – F to B flat


repeating at steady intervals.

Is this the lucky cicada
who found his mate?

The world will never know.

In the end, the entire brood
will mate, lay eggs, and die,

leaving their exoskeleton carcasses
and their soft, red-eyed bodies to rot
on sidewalks and cars,
in grass.

Their progeny will rise up singing
in another 17 years.

Jackie Oldham is a writer from Baltimore, Maryland. She has read her work at local venues, for the Quintessential Listening: Poetry podcast (2019, 2020, and upcoming on February 10, 2021), and for the Black Poets Matter series, presented by Mad Mouth Poetry. Her essays have appeared as Editorials and Letters in the Baltimore Sun newspaper. Her first short story, “Age-isms,” was published in midnight & indigo, an online and print literary journal featuring Black Women writers. Three of her poems have been published: “Golem Emet” and “I Don’t Want to Play The ‘Capitol’ of Edition of Clue™” in Oddball Magazine and “Just Another Covid-19 Saturday” in Global PoemicSabiyha Prince is an anthropologist, artist, and author based in Washington, DC.  Her books and essays explore urban change and African American culture, and her paintings and photo collages grapple with memory, identity, kinship and inequality.

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