The Insect Chorus

There are those who hate cicadas as they hate the summer sun. I myself love both.  The haters hear cacaphony, noise, intrusion. They hear one solid tone – abrasive – not noticing how the insect chorus of crickets and cicada throbs, then silences, throbs again.  They hear “scissor-grinders.” They hear the snapping of a tab from a cola can, up and back, in magnified repetition.  They don’t hear the hum of deep satisfaction or the sense of time passing and the moment fulfilled, though maybe they hear grief in summer’s end.

I have wracked up an array of pantheistic images of this summer soundtrack which have come in handy this most trying of weeks.  Time slows in August, that motionless high summer standstill.  But I, like many, found myself staring at spectacles of dystopia.  Further incursions of terror.  Election Day dread.  The top somehow keeps spinning, even as it slows down, teeters, leans as far from its axis of normalcy as seems possible.  Light sweat becomes greasier.  The levels of cynicism keep upping, possibly a way of preservation.

The insect chorus kept spinning.  For some species the high-stakes erotic daytime display is a suicide song. But at night, the song softens to a rhythmic chant, a round of pure incantation.  As the dervish dances into trance, the insect night calms to its given.  I’ve heard an eternal soundtrack, the god in timeless dance shaking her string of bells, every night from a different limb.  Or worshippers in thrall to cosmic energies, in a public display of meditation. I’ve heard a sound girdle across the earth’s broad waist, a web of communication, the chanting wordless word of consolation.  It’s there, for those who listen, and I’ll be listening keenly as the seasons shift.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Insect Chorus

  1. Vladimir Golstein says:

    Yes, the sounds of summer. They come at you along with heat, humidity, sweat, crowds at the beach, stealing gulls, and poison ivy. But some like it hot, I guess.

    Best, most eloquent defense of cicadas, I’ve ever heard. Not sure they deserve it, but how many subjects of poetic fancy deserve the lines devoted to them?

    • jillbpearlman says:

      They deserve it, they do! Mythical creatures. How could one count the lines of poetic fancy that the cicada has generated? Even if they do signal stifling heat and the stand stillness of time.

  2. Vilmain Judy says:


  3. This is beautiful. Thank you.

    (Here via Via Negativa..)

    • jillbpearlman says:

      Thank you, Rachel, wonderful to hear from you! It’s so nice to be connected via Via Negativa. I heard you read at the Jewish Poetry Festival in Brookline — you were very inspiring. Let the conversation continue!

  4. This is luscious as a summer peach.

Comments are closed.