Catching Crickets



Catching crickets, caging them, and making them sing

We track them through their courting ceremonies
hunt them down by the noise they make
clutch them tight between anxious fingers

We weave glass jails
sentence them one by one to green imprisonment

At day’s end we ferry them to city apartments
incarcerate them like canaries in their cages
and wait for them to sing

At first they are silent in this strange environment
we feed them with bread dipped in brandy and wine
and sooner or later they sing in their captivity

Now they will not eat
they await the liquor that burns them
into fiery tongues of song

 Our midnights are haunted by their spirituals

Commentary: This is a “Golden Oldie”going back to when we were living in Santander, Spain. When we visited the beach at Noja, we would lunch with our Spanish family and all their children on the grassy headland overlooking the sea. After lunch, the children would hunt for crickets. When they caught one, they would weave a grass jail from blades of grass and place the crickets in there, one by one. Then, when they went home, they would bring the crickets with them and cage them. The crickets usually ‘sang’, but if they didn’t then alcohol was used as a bribe and a persuasion. I told this story in class one day and one of my students, Sheree Fitch, herself an excellent poet and story teller said: “It’s a poem: quick, write it down.” And I did. And here it is. With many thanks to Sheree Fitch.

NB Our cricket, the one they caught for us, wouldn’t sing. Clare and I took it down to the local gardens and released it when nobody was looking.

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