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Summer/Fall 2018

The Infestation


by Emily Madapusi Pera


As a budding scientist specialized in backyard wildlife,
I sprang into action when a cicada clan emerged
like magic overnight to blanket the block with song.

My research revealed translucent wings as sticky velvet & peel-able,
and were soon amassed into a collection,
the light work of an afternoon.

I yearned for what lay deeper, the source of the sweet vibrations;
but as exoskeleton oozed, the song was gone.

Syrupy and surprising in quantity,
the buggy ooze made me yelp & drop a wing;
as I bent over, I saw I wasn’t alone.

She saw the pile:
discarded husks, wingless cicadas, dead or near;
I swore to make them good as new
just as soon as I found superglue.

It’s okay, she said, with a quick shake of her head:
I want to show you something.

Pointing at the big tree, its round middle section high up
where I liked to climb:
a gash of sap flashed in the sun,
where cicadas were greedily feeding.

You see it? she asked,
and we were no longer daughter & mother,
but two scientists collaborating on a grave problem:
how to save the big tree
from having its life sucked out.

I showed her my methods, and she solemnly nodded,
then handed me the can of DEET.


[Check out Emily Madapusi Pera’s back porch wisdom]

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