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CNF: Cicada Visits Me, Again

by Shanti Chandrasekhar

 

A Cicada on My Window – Part 1, May 2004

For weeks, I awaited your arrival, wondering what you’d look like, waiting for you to take me away. Lost in a swarm, I’d perhaps find my way to a different world. Away from agony. No more torment, no more anguish, no more tears. For seventeen years, I’d find peace.

Then return. Perhaps to a transformed, empathetic world. Return. To find what I’ve been seeking.

But when I spotted you perched on my window, motionless, weary, and lonely, your bulging red eyes reflected my being. Your still, transparent wings, too weak to fly, mirrored my exhaustion. My lack of strength to go on.

You sat there with an unquenched thirst. Wounded, wronged, alone. No, I was not repulsed by you. I wondered, if I offered you my friendship, would you know what we should do?

Cicada, where do we go from here?

 

A Cicada on My Deck Door – Part 2, May 2021

I let you be. I let you go. I did not follow you. Then.

But Cicada, perhaps you gave me the courage to move. I left, too. I walked out the door without turning to look back, knowing I wouldn’t return after seventeen years. I walked away, my mind focused on the path ahead.

I smiled again. I started to live. And then, something hit me. I was caught off guard.

Yet I did not fall.

It was not an object. It was not a meteor or something that you could see. It was invisible. It invaded me and over time, it merged with every part of my body. It became a part of me. It became me.

They gave it several names. Fourteen different names, fourteen different diagnoses.

I give it but one name. Pain.

Today you sit on my deck door, Cicada. Your wings flutter. Your body curls up. Cicada, are you in pain? Would you offer me your friendship? Just so, until you’ve to go away, I’d have someone who knows what I feel?

 

Shanti Chandrasekhar has published nonfiction pieces in The Washington Post and elsewhere. Her short stories have appeared online in Literary Mama and FewerThan500, and in District Lines, a Literary Anthology (Politics & Prose, Washington D.C.). She works as a project manager, writes, and lives in Maryland.

 

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What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Cicada Visits Me, Again”?

I wrote the original version, Part 1, on May 21, 2004 as a poem and edited it twice that same year. A writer friend said to me, just because you hit Enter for line breaks, that doesn’t make it a poem. I didn’t respond and the poem sat in a folder in my laptop. On May 31, 2021, when I spotted a Cicada again, I wrote the second part and converted my 2004 poem into a nonfiction piece, now agreeing with my friend! Also, I edited some words in the poem back to the very first draft. Pain, emotional and physical, is hard to describe. But the Cicada spoke to me….

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