96. Cicadas in August

She weeds the humid green as

August heat leans in, finding milkweed

feebler than its own roots; failing again

and again to unlock the ground around

a milky stem as all around her those cicadas,


their love calls gnaw the evening air: It isn’t

fair, the way it ends so soon, a lifetime

of waiting and a hope

that sprouts wings. Nothing

is ever enough. And yet that sound,


the pure desire in it is something, is more

than can be had by a woman in hiding;

she knows, and still, daily, she fortifies

her life against that heat, the smell and feel

of invaders. But sometimes


in the night something a picture

or a word creeps into her

dreams moves over her bare skin

light as moths something possible

stirs beneath that clay and then


vanishes the moment she opens

her eyes. And she moves

through the heat of a new day,

keeping her eyes open, running

her hands over her arms, almost

remembering, thinking she hears it

again in the elms that sway

above her quiet house

in her waking hours.

— Patricia Traxler

Author of three poetry collections including Forbidden Words (Missouri), Traxler has published her poetry widely, including in The Nation, Ms. Magazine, Ploughshares, Agni, LA Times Literary Supplement, Slate, The Boston Review, and Best American Poetry. Awards include two Bunting Poetry Fellowships from Radcliffe, Ploughshares’ Cohen Award, and a Pablo Neruda Award from Nimrod.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s