by David B. Prather


Hot air moves to find some comfort, a breeze
                                        that could cause a blaze.
The first cicada of the season scrapes its ungodly
                                        voice like a flint in the
water maple. I expect the top of the tree to
                                        burst into flames. As a
teenager, it was my job to burn the trash in
                                        a fifty-gallon metal drum,
match to paper, flare to rubbish. I loved
                                        watching those fingers
of fire reach up, demons trying to escape the
                                        bonds of Hell. Cicadas
had risen again, seventeen years beneath
                                        the soil, a resurrection
of sorts, a plague of noise and glassy wings.
                                        One flew into my sister’s
hair, her panic stilled as I pinched those wings,
                                        carried that insect devil
to the inferno and threw it in. I’m not proud of
                                        my cruelty. I used to
catch leaf hoppers and millers to throw into
                                        spiderwebs, watch their
struggles as spiders tight-wire walked toward
                                        them. I’ve always thought
spiders looked hungry, ravenous, never sated.
                                        Perhaps this is the source
of my fear, the hunger of heights, the cravings
                                        of crowds, the appetite of
night. The end of the world was so much
                                        farther away back then.
I’ve heard the world will end in fire, the ravings
                                        of a Baptist preacher who
only saw damnation for me, which I knew was
                                        true. If today is any
indication, it must be true, sunlight spilling itself
                                        at my feet, and me
just learning how to dance.


DAVID B. PRATHER is the author of We Were Birds (Main Street Rag Publishing). His work has appeared in several print and online journals, including Prairie Schooner, Colorado Review, Seneca Review, Poet Lore, Potomac Review, The Literary Review, Gyroscope Review, River Heron Review, and many others. He studied acting at the National Shakespeare Conservatory in New York, and he studied writing at Warren Wilson College. He currently resides in Parkersburg, WV.


Photo: “Cicadas” by Leslie