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Desert Cicadas Haibun

It’s July, so the cicadas are out merrymaking in the mesquite trees off our balcony.  The heat and humidity turns them into armies of disembodied electric shavers.  These big handsome buzzy insects inspired poetic thoughts of immortality among the Chinese, while the Japanese came to the opposite conclusion in their haiku by equating cicadas with the fleetingness of life.

Once, I gave a buzzing flashing-eyed plastic cicada keychain to my mom who had lived all her life in cicada-free Hawaii.  The odd bug effigy delighted her and she brought it on all of her trips to Las Vegas with my dad.  She believed the cicada was her lucky charm that could bring forth great rivers of fat nickels pouring from the slot machines.  Often it did.  Her cicada vanished when she died one Vegas, twelve years ago.  My own belief is that listening to cicadas mows down any bad feelings overgrown in one’s heart: fear, shame, rage, grief--all cleanly weed-whacked away.

Trees trill electric
in the heavy summer heat
singing us alive.


by Sharon Suzuki-Martinez

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