This is a cicada shedding his sleeping bag. Not exactly beautiful with its two bulging eyes, stubby, stumplike thorax, and wicked, clacking little wings. Then there’s the “seething multitudes” factor. You know, that factor that graces everything truly abhorrent: “There’s millions of ‘em, too. Just seething around.” You find this in cockroaches, mole rats, Renaissance Faire character actors, grubs, and especially fireants when you step onto an ant bed, exposing the ardent, evil queen ant and her unholy, winged, bi-sexed minions. Your skin crawls. You feel a retch coming on. If you’re at all inclined to do so, you’ll take an imaginal, macroscopic leap into outer space, where humans must look the same way: writhing and crawling all around one another in mammalian gloom, hell-bent on some universal dread purpose and collectively droning, "Must live. Don’t know why. Must live, though. And shop at Wal*Mart for everyday low savings."
But this here cicada stands against all that. He’s not writhing at all. I know, it looks like he’s wriggling out of his former exoskeleton with the glee of a teenage life sentence shedding her prom dress on the banks of the mighty Mississippi. (And who knows, maybe she was a tax consultant in a former life, if such things exist, and she intuits that now, in her nascence and inexperience, that perhaps the pinnacle of life could indeed be reached on a riverbank, as the moon measures itself out in quarterturns, off and up in the Kali Yuga stratos.) But no, he’s deader than a roofing tack. Only reason I know is because I’ve been waiting for him to eclose for damn near half a day. And last time I checked, Ma Nature’s a little too experienced to make eclosing a harrowing, all-day deal.
Cicadas. I love their drowsy, a/c electric weezy-weezy song, which brings me a continental comfort same way as the coo of the dove. But they’re stupid enough. Globular, dumb, intent on multiplication. Who knows what killed this one. Maybe something scared him to death. Maybe he saw yours truly rounding the bend and said, “Oh shit. I can’t handle this world of quivering meat, personality, and cruelty.” But if I cd, I'd clack my wings back, google my eyes and say, "Aw, but it’s orright, Li’l Dead Guy. Maybe the reincarnation myth is real, not just be-deviling metaphor. An’ maybe next time around, maybe you’ll get born with jus’ a little more moxie."
He’ll need it. ‘Cause this here life requires a little bit of moxie. Hard to get very far without it. If you're a cicada, at least.