I think the skunk is gone, but take no chances. At night outside I use a flashlight, going over to where Allen smokes. Don’t want to trip over skunks.
Three nights ago was coolish, a typical fall evening. We would sleep with windows open, crickets trilling pleasantly. Late; got up to get some milk. Discovered the trilling coming from under the refrigerator and the countertop in the kitchen. It suddenly ceased being pleasant. I muttered as I crawled back in next to Allen.
When I was a child, living on the edge of town, I thought briefly that the chirring came from stars. White stars vibrated in summer’s black sky and made this tinnitus of the creation earth. I have no memory of wondering why stars stayed silent in winter, but perhaps I simply forgot it then. Anyway, the trilling was part and parcel of our sweet season. Faintly, then vibrantly, then again faintly, magical.
I’m grown now and more bookish; know that the hard edge of the male’s right wing bows upon a vein of his left, singing this way to the female; whose ears are all in her legs, and she responds. (A signal for something few in creation earth will misunderstand.) This knowledge does nothing whatever to dispel the magic.
But life’s seasons have changed, bringing responsibilities, wifely anxieties. Two nights ago I said I would not be able to rest with a cricket trilling under the refrigerator. Its singing sounded soothing when coming through windows, but jangling and irritating, when coming from under refrigerators. Allen manhandled the appliance, got down on his knees with a flashlight and announced that there were three crickets under there.
Crickets have been coming in since late August. Each time I set jars over them and carefully carried them outside. But three at once—when night’s rest is waiting? As they scuttled away into darkness at the rear of the refrigerator, I gave the order to kill. By the time we got back into bed we had slaughtered five. Apparently, males had been signaling females in through the crack under the screen door. Exhausted, I finally found and killed the last one before dropping into the sack.
(The cricket’s black deflated little body is still lying on the floor under the door of the appliance. No one was home to sweep floors yesterday.) I wasn’t going to mark this invasion, but as I sit down in the living room to write this morning, I notice a big black cricket on the light blue ground of my son’s shirt lying abandoned on a chair. Seeing it there on a piece of intimate cloth directs my gaze to the door at a rumpled bed in the next room. What if one should come a-crawling as we sleep?
But the killer has gone out of me. I walk gingerly past and get the jar, scoop up the insect and carry it out into morning darkness. Close and strong as the smell of skunk, obsession can grab hold, take possession of one’s entire being. Then, weary and outnumbered, gently it lets go.
You might write about me, that great black bug on the light blue ground seemed to say. © 2020 by S. Dorman
This entry above is used with permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers