When the Cicadas Return









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Corn Goddess
by Stephanie Dickinson


All day there was a truck parked on the seawall.

It stood before the fickle drinking fountains, a refrigerated

truck that hauled red snapper and amberjack.

Now it held people and all the cold had vanished.

Metal shell sizzling to heat that hissed when they spit at it.

Twenty-three men and women up from Monterrey

who’d given a year’s wages for this waiting.

Not even the driver had keys. The walls were seamless

like the skin of a sardine and burnt their fingers when

they struggled to find a way out. The man who was

to come had been frightened off by a police car, patrolling

the roller bladers and licking hibiscus.

The man went to The Cut, into the twilight

of stamp-sized dance floors and barmaids wearing

leather holsters to carry  greasy bottles of tequila.

It was good to wait until night to go back.

He would find a girl with lips of feathers.

He would find a girl with legs of a flamingo.

But he disappeared into his own withering and

the fetid bay breezes made the day go on and on

and the great heavy sun was whitening their cries.

There was a boy in the truck who put his mouth

to the sealed door, said it was air he was breathing

the flutter of a gull’s wings, but it was his pulse racing.

Outside there were people who would have helped.

The truck was speaking to the girl in orange bikini

as she lathered on coconut oil, untied her straps

and lay in the unraveling flames. What is it?

Once she looked up, but it was hard to hear over

Madonna singing in her voice of spoiled blue cheese.

Then bronzed hands lifted volleyballs, spanking them

over a net, and the bay water glazed into grayness

that brought in  blue muscles of jellyfish.

The boy in the truck floated away from himself

dreaming of sheephead fish with tiny human teeth

trying to breathe out of the sea.