Baltimore

From the window, on a perfect August day, the great shade trees are unmoved, only the uncountable susurrations of their million-fold leaves betraying the breeze in its passage.
  
Roses in bloom, creepers climbing the porch railings, morning glory transforming the hedge into a vast, amorphous caterpillar of violet blossoms, some robins on the lawn hunting worms, two squirrels, an unabashed rabbit venturing out from its den within the ancient azalea bush.
  
The surface of the planet seethes with fellow creatures!
  
Their kinship touches a peculiar nerve, a spot not far from where art resides, primitive, cognizant of the animal nature of the species, the cave where Pan must once have lived, or still does.
  
And from the treetops the oceanic chorus of cicadas, described by Whitman as "rising and falling like brass quoits."
  
Specimen Days. As they all are. Wings pinned, chloroformed in glass vials,
  
catalogued for display in the dusty museum cases of time.
  
Chirp of some warbler, distant traffic, rumble of bass and drums from the all day music festival at the race track where the teenagers in tie-dye and belly button rings themselves resemble birds engaged in inscrutable mating rituals.
  
For blocks around concert-goers fill the streets, stoned or trippy on the day's sweet blue-sky vibe, little kids selling bottled water from red coolers, guys with knock-off sunglasses and t-shirts, the big grills set up on traffic islands for crab cakes and barbeque ribs.
  
The song the cicadas are singing they will sing throughout the brief weeks of their lives, exultant imagos mating in the high branches, and a new generation will emerge from freshly-laid eggs, and burrow underground, ant-like grubs, wingless nymphs subsisting for the next seventeen years on fluids sucked from tree roots, with only that promise to help them endure their long, transitional dreamstate,
  
that memory or fragrance, a sunlit dance of green leaves in wind, that paradisal fragment of sensory data imprinted deep within their genes,
  
only that song—like quoits!—to lead them out of darkness.
The Custodian and Other Poems
Campbell McGrath
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The Custodian and Other Poems

Campbell McGrath

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