Sherry Chandler


Like everybody else,
I thought them locusts, creatures
of Pharaoh’s eighth plague.
The swell and fade of their call
defined dog-day afternoons
when flabby tobacco hornworms
had to be picked off
the heavy leaves by men
in shirts gone black with sweat.
They walked tobacco green
as the worm, snapped suckers
with gum-coated hands.
Though Mother told me locusts
called for Pharaoh, all
I heard was a conch-shell rush
as I held to my ear
one of their glassy husks.
She showed me how to hush
a bug by placing my hand
on its tree but silence bought
that way was only respite.


Artwork on this page:
Detail of Heat of the day, cool of the night
65 x 26.5" oil on wooden door, 2005
Irene Hardwicke Olivieri

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