Saturday, November 26, 2011

Brood XIX

By the time we get to Nashville
the party is mostly over,
dead bodies strewn across the sidewalks.

"Two weeks ago,"
Says Dr. F, walking quite fast,
"We wouldn't have been able to hear
each other speak"

Waves to show the little space between us.

",above the noise."

Makes a sweeping gesture to the trees.
"I like it. It reminds me of growing up."

Down by the river,
desparate virgins lurk in the woods

(easy to take their songs for wails of frustration
these late-comers who might have missed their chance
but, of course
the male cries because that is all he knows how to do)

the path is studded with narrow wells
conduits to the past
and it's not too hard to count by thirteens
1998 - the Lewinsky brood
1985 - the Contra brood
1972 - the Watergate brood

only 14 broods back Old Hickory is in the White House, still grieving,
and wondering about his assets back in Hermitage.

He writes to brother of his just dead wife, son of the Col. founder of Nashborough,

June 7 1829 - To John Donelson
P.S. Mr. Steel has written me but one letter say to him to write me how much crop he has in, how many coalts, lambs & calves and how my last years coalts are–and of the health of my Negroes–I learn old Ned & Jack are both dead–Jack was a fine boy, but if hew was well attended to, I lament not–he has gone the way of all the earth–

[If the ages in the Hermitage register of 1829 are correct "Old" Ned, might have seen four broods, Jack, dead at 17, just missed seeing two.]

but the past is dead
the travails of man and bug are separate threads
they pull apart cleanly like an insect from its skin

we can search for meaning in the spectacle:
thirteen years of tax on the trees
sapped drop by drop by the waiting grub
then the explosion of screams and sex and death
the hungry mouths of birds
bodies dropping from the trees
a windfall paid back to the forest soil
less the hundred thousand eggs
stealed away in twigs
and some weeks hence
mostly unnoticed
a second rain
grubs fall to the soil
to burrow down,
through the husks of their ancestors
to search and find
the root

the promise of return
the fullness of the season and the gathering of things

but I'm afraid I've dug myself too deep
down here at the bottom of the well
staring up at my nearly teenage daughter
one brood hence
regarding me with exasperation.

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Katie (Nature ID) said...

It's too bad you barely missed the emergence. It's odd to think that far into the future for when you will see another. Maybe your daughter will have a sibling? 2024 and 2025 should be interesting years with the 2 different broods, if you're still in Nashville.

I was in OH when V came out in 1999. I convinced some older volunteers at the museum I worked to go out to the local arboretum with me at night to witness the emergence from the ground, because as I delicately put it, they might not be alive for the next emergence (unfortunately, this already came true). We ate some fresh young adults with lemon cookies and ginger ale chasers. It was quite an outing.

I came to your blog, because I thought you might be interested in this "commercial" blog:

Hope all is well.

Neil Kelley said...

Hi Katie,

This blog gets so little traffic I rarely think to check for comments.

That's an awesome story about the brood V. How did they taste? I barely missed that one too since I moved to northern Ohio in the fall of 1999 to go to college.

Yeah so much in nature happens on an annual cycle or shorter, it is neat to try to think about the longer rhythms. Donald Peattie writes in Almanac for Moderns "An old entomologist can never be sure that he will live to see them again."

Funny that you should mention Darren's blog since his original version of Tetrapod Zoology (Ver 1 as he calls it) was what inspired me to start blogging waaay back in 2006. I've had the good fortune to meet Darren once and we are friends, at least in the Facebook sense. Incredibly brilliant guy.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Which school did you attend?

Yah, I'm too familiar with the reality of that saying considering my long-term monitoring/entomology mentor died in Dec '98 at a youngish age of 57. I would have liked to have experienced V with her, among many other things.

In preparation for the emergence, I read as much as I could about the cicadas, never having experienced them myself since I grew up in CA. A couple of wisecracking fellas on a morning news radio show publicly called me out when I mentioned how newly emerged adults were supposed to taste like shrimp. So the dare was there, and I had to do it. They were squishy and had a surprisingly nutty-bark flavor... er, the cicadas, not the radio guys. They tasted particularly good fried in bacon grease, but that goes without saying.

You could always hit the road next year and go see some.

Go Giants!