Cicadas sing and the clack and click of timbals,
not music but a cacophony for hot summer days
and sticky sweat running down slippery backs.
The timbals buckle out and then bend back in,
dispersing a shaking sound as of rattles
the noise rising and falling like
deep and repeated knife stabs,
unending even deep past dim light into night
descending out from trees
and off into the humid and misty airs over forest and field.
I imagine grasses thick with rattlesnakes,
or man made automatons set at times
to scream at me through ossicles and cochlea.
And thus males hearken to their mates
proof positive that time plays out moment by moment,
burdens are rewards all their own,
and the cicada's empty rust-colored shells symbolic
carcasses an ironic muted reminder of the cycle of life.