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Bugs
by Emily Hiestand

--Peconic Bay, Long Island

The ten o'clock train whistle blows
through a field of singing cicadas.
In amorous grasses, thorny rugosas
and pines, these least of creatures
wait for night to court in knock-kneed,
spindle-legged splendour, wings drawn,
in incidental pastoral, like rosin over bows:
quave quave breve quave quave

We could say the cicadas are women,
a clicking and hidden population
knitting pines and oaks to the night.
That would make the whistle male,
his lonesome song a slave to wayward ways.
But among the bugs are male and female;
male and female are among the bugs,
his ectoderm plenty exotic for her.

And the whistle calls to all, signalling
freighted commuters, ducks, and the russets
this region pulls from silt-plump fields.

Love's own keen eyes see the polished rails
that cross the fertile and syncopated field.
And each of us, dear, has ears to hear
whistle and wings antiphonal sing
treebound traveling treebound traveling--
Those old bugs.

--first published in The Michigan Quarterly Review



Emily Hiestand is a writer, visual artist, and the literary and poetry editor of Orion. Her books are Green the Witch Hazel Wood, which received the National Poetry Series Award, The Very Rich Hours, and Angela the Upside Down Girl, And Other Domestic Travels, forthcoming in July 1998 from Beacon Press.

If you'd like to order these (and other) books, please visit The Orion Society Bookstore.



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