Cricket in my room
Now the late-summer evening’s encroaching gloom
Has found its voice, a voice as old as new,
And you, cricket—field cricket, cricket in my room,
I hear and all too well you have found yours too.
And you join your brethren in their ageless orchestration
Pouring through my window screen like cosmic radiation;
A million flints are struck, and one invisible fire
Scintillates from stone to star with male cricket desire—
On one evening stroll I swear I could even
Hear calls raining down from the crickets of heaven;
And your females too, their own quiet thirsting
Was there in the night, like grapes on the vine
In deep blue clusters and ripened to bursting.
And in all of that desire, and with all of mine,
I write at my desk as the music resounds
And my admiration knows—well, next to no bounds,
For I do draw a line, and that’s at my door:
Your featured performance I never asked for.
When it comes to crickets playing steady and loud
A million may be company, but only one’s a crowd.
My advice, brother cricket, is stick to your field,
Where a thousand crickets I wouldn’t think any;
Here in my room and however concealed
You’re one cricket and one cricket too many.
My sleepless little bedfellow, your desire is mine:
To warn away rivals and serenade a bride.
Why else are we here stitching line upon line?—
We are two whose beloved is not by our side.
And though it’s true we are birds of a feather,
The music we make we can’t make together;
I can’t compose and you can’t play along
In manners to fashion us one common song.
I draw from the past and from (maybe) above;
You stammer forever on the great L of Love.
So I guess you can hear what the night has become,
A kind of lonesome musical duel
Between the lay and the scribble-and-hum
Of a wandering minstrel and rhyming old fool.
Earth calls for your call, and you can’t deny it;
I stomp on the floor, demanding some quiet;
And you seem to civilly grant as my due
The quiet to scratch in a couplet or two—
Before you deliver your following quaver
From an echoing nook even more to your favor.
And so, brother cricket, it must be confided:
I’ll weary of waging these lyrical wars,
And when this house is no longer divided,
It won’t be this brother who’s rhyming outdoors—
I may wake in the night from my dreaming in bed
With highway construction going on in my head,
Then I’ll follow your call to where you’re holed up
To show you the door in a can or a cup.
And more than my wits will appear out of place
When I bring some light to the sonorous space
Where you played with so much heart and soul
You burnt yourself down to a cinder—
To an astonished little head of coal
And a smoky trunk, whose leaps I’ll hinder.
But I would never be so crass to say
You nothing but fiddle your life away;
And as you crawl off the porch like your own little hearse
It ought to be said for once in a verse,
That whether you autumn in palace or thicket,
Saving like the ant or grasshopper, cricket,
A single spring and summer are all you’re born to know,
And your months of selfless spending are for all to hatch anew
Springtime from the secret eggs that slept beneath the snow.
Months from now, as the first flakes fall, if it’s you
I hear on a chilly stroll, firing your last from behind a boulder;
Well, far from me to tell you the war is over, soldier—
A man whose yearnings have hardly retired
By his becoming a man no longer desired.
For Desire, brother cricket—it’s as deep as our design:
The first and final Word; human, cricket and divine.