There is a roaring in the trees
black walnuts litter the pavement
a great magnolia towers in the front yard
it is a canopy of glossy leaves
and twisting branches,
the blossoms are ivory
fallen petals are yellowing in the grass
my aunt tells me when she was little
she would take the exoskeletons
cicadas left clinging to the bark
and fasten them to her shirt like a brooch.

There are three species of cicada
that live underground for thirteen years
and all three can be found in Mississippi
they move and eat and rest
hidden in the crimson clay
until they feel the fated call to emerge
triumphant nymphs
in the glittering Strawberry Moon
they shed their tired skin
abandon it,
fly wildly into the humid night
to form their deafening symphony
while somewhere small hands
transmute their translucent coats
into secondhand accessories.

My aunt’s house does not exist anymore
the little white house with a secret door
leading into the garden
flooded with soft camellias  
the yard adorned with a magnolia tree
that I used to climb with my cousins,
black walnuts and cicada song
surround an empty lot
filled with the ghosts of versions of us
while beneath them exists a world unaltered,
each year the second life of creatures
is a spectacle of the unfurling of seasons
bringing the bittersweet recollection of things
long abandoned,
and the promise of wings in moons to come

Photo by Ritz on Unsplash

Emily Elledge

Emily Elledge is a 27-year-old writer from Mississippi. After living far and away in New Zealand for a time, she resides in her home state with her toddler, fiancé and a large number of semi-healthy houseplants.