If she were here she would say 
the cicadas, the cicadas and rest 
her arms over the frame, the window 
folded and pushed aside and she would 
listen, just that, doing nothing but noting, 
while the high tide of summer night holds 
her like a sea, how cicada cicada cicada out of 
the earth after seven white years tight in the crush 
of earth have crawled to the light, bust 
out to beat and drum leg to leg, 
to say themselves, over and over. 
Why can I not see one of you when I can hear the sound of so many? 
How do you see or find each other in the hot night and in the mild day? 
Do you recognise the lost luggage of your sisters and brothers that clings to telegraph
poles, walls, tree trunks, leaves of montbretia? 
What is the name of the woman who gathers your transparencies with their sticky frail
claws to preserve them in clear resin? 
Who will make jewellery of your ectoskeletons? 
A cellist who thought she had arranged to meet my husband arrived to stay, but he had
gone away. She knelt on the bed in the sun porch with the windows pushed aside and
listened to the cicadas that are the antecedents, the great grandparents of those I hear
now while they say themselves, speak themselves and tell where they are. These
cicadas were full of wings and desire and yearning.
So there was this young woman I did not know, with no cello on this February evening
twenty-five years ago, but just the mild air and the demands of cicadas. Their
insistence and requests moved around and hit against the asking of others. She rested
her forearms on the window sill and it was better than the radio, the television or an LP,
maybe better than my husband would have been and all the words they would have
said to each other. If they had met here I would have forgotten what was said. 
There was just a woman and unnumbered, innumerable insects one night in that short
season when it must all be said or never, or never. 


Rachel Bush lives in Nelson. She has written three books of poetry. The most recent, All Patients Report Here (Wai-te-ata Press) was written after a short time as poet in residence at Wellington HospitalThe Unfortunate Singer (1997) and The Hungry Woman (2002) are published by VUP.