Yesterday was a day of tragedy at the Clune house. We laid to rest a roll of Charmin, a bag of egg noodles (the cats now open cupboards), and said good-bye to this curious creature who expired at our front door.
I had no idea what this was at first, but I found myself captivated by its beautiful markings, the lacy transparency of its wings and its largess. It appeared to be dead, but closer inspection revealed the slow kick of a single rear appendage. I watched as those beautiful wings fluttered, narry a movement as much as a slight vibration. The final death rattle.
My thoughts returned to this being many times throughout the day. I photographed it to preserve, in my memory, the curious life that once was. Here I sit at 5 a.m. writing about the experience without knowing why.
This is a Dog-Day cicada, a variety which emerges during the dog-day heat of summer. 2,500 species of cicada are prevalent the world over and, of course, I have heard of them as well as heard their hum. Strangely, in my 39 years traveling the globe, I have seen only one other. I thought, perhaps, the rarity of the event had me mesmerized. The reality is, I am pondering death … and life.
In Japanese and Chinese culture, the cicada is exemplary of regeneration, rebirth and immortality. The shedding of its shell symbolizes the many stages of transformation required of a person before all illusions are broken and enlightenment is reached. With death on my doorstep after the loss of a friend and with the passing of a family member looming over the days ahead, I would never have thought comfort could come on the wings of a cicada.
I felt your beauty,
I felt you, if it matters.
It matters to me.