19 March 2008 | Vol. 8, No. 1

When Cicadas Sing

a heart that laughter has made sweet
– W. B. Yeats

My father sings in German when he does the dishes;

his wedding ring clicking on glass cups and plates,

a metronome keeping a beat for some quiet counterpoint,

muted by the suds, the soapy water, and the singing.

My mother sits back in her chair there in the dim kitchen,

after the weight of the meal has been lifted,

drinking decaf and laughing at his uncertain baritone belting:

Wird wohl mein Feinsliebchen sein; hollahihaho!

Twenty years ago, the song would have been the same

though the dishes have all broken and cracked since then

but always the after-dinner-music in a language she'll never know;

Geht vorbei und kommt nicht 'rein; hollahi, hollaho!

Outside, the cicadas' song crescendos—decrescendos,

passes from tree to tree while the crescent moon

traces its curled finger across the crest of the sky.

Inside, the stairs groan as my parents trudge off to bed.

About the author:

Benjamin Mueller graduated from Valparaiso University. He currently lives in Eureka, CA. He has had previous work published in Euphony.

For further reading:

Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 8, No. 1, where "When Cicadas Sing" ran on March 19, 2008. List other work with these same labels: poetry.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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