The Threepenny Review

How the Cicada Screams

I ONCE ACCIDENTALLY dug up a cicada in the springtime, killing it right before it was meant to fly. The house I lived in, my parents’ house, had a ring of plants around it—the man who lived there before, by most accounts a generally grumpy and not well-liked neighbor, had been an expert gardener, and he tended to all sorts of flowers and bushes that made our yard lush and attractive in ways we could not.

No one in my family ever knew much of anything about gardening. But every now and then one of us would get the notion to try to plant some tulips, and that might have been why I was digging the day I unearthed the cicada. Most of that week is only memory in passing, threads I am barely able to hold on to, but I remember his body under the butterfly bush, which stood large with lilac flowers.

It must have been only a few months, maybe even just a few weeks, before he was supposed to wake up. The cicada, that is. The swarm had last been

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