Chorus Centers

by Sarah Swinford

Cicadas do not know the world is ending.
They do not know there are infants in the ocean;
mothers like Jochebed,
tearing each strand of Nile grass from their gardens. 

They have not seen empty isles and stockpiles in pantries.
Never watched conspiracies on a Friday night,
read doomsday signs in front of college libraries,
mocking another false prophet until his sign splits
like an eggshell spreading soiled yolk down sidewalk cracks. 

Cicadas spend seventeen years sipping orange juice,
dancing to the scent of their mother’s cinnamon coffee downstairs.
They paint their wings with cracked neon nail polish,
admire their friends in underground bathrooms—
the kind with artificial ivy, graffiti hanging on stalls
and pink-tiled walls.

They do not know of potato gas-station pizza,
bunk beds you must squeeze to fit in. In their prime,
they will sit on cypress trees covering Italian dunes,
howling along to the sounds of bare feet and tourist chatter. 

An American father will joke about the apocalypse:
“Imagine they all come flying down.”
The cicadas chirp along to his story, not knowing
they are the locust plague. Not knowing their own apocalypse
arrives as they emerge out of the ground.


Sarah Swinford was raised somewhere between a small town in Northern Germany and the suburbs of Houston, Texas. She holds a BA in English from the University of Houston and is currently pursuing her MEd at the University of Houston-Victoria. She has words published in Barely South Review, Gigantic Sequins, The Rappahannock Review, and The Sierra Nevada Review.