Academic journal article Antipodes

Cicada Summer

Academic journal article Antipodes

Cicada Summer

Article excerpt

It is the night, it is the heat

pulsing through tightened veins

like Caters forcing birds to the guns;

it is the coil wreathing its web or smoke,

the leaves still on the branches waiting:

the storm broods above the line of hills,

as blue fades into indigo: cicada night

swelling and fading, the pug dog next door

moaning its loneliness. The watcher

takes whatever comes in the twilight stillness:

the brazen edges of the clouds westward,

the Sri Lankan smell of the coil,

the cooling air, the damp breeze whispering

of storm, the heart now forcing its passage

through thickening veins in the fading light.

When the coil fails in the darkening stillness

there's the keening drill of mosquitoes

looking for blood; but how can he begrudge them:

for he has also needed to tap into the vein,

has sucked at the source of life; he knows

he will again.

Once in Colombo-those teeming corpuscles

in the heart-shaped island-the fans

slowly rocking in the ceiling, sluggishly shifting

the thick air, he knew, if only briefly,

the exploding bus that was his heart

in the instant of knowing terror

and surviving. Then, and then, and ever

he has known that the next day is not

a given, but given only by grace, and

good luck, the gadget wheels of chance

or the gun's spinning chamber. …

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