Poetry Sunday: Insect Life of Florida by Lynda Hull

I must say the insect life of Florida sounds very like the insect life of Southeast Texas. Our days are filled with "their endless thrum." Especially the cicadas. And our nights are now "metallic with cicadas, musical and dangerous as the human heart."

Insect Life of Florida

by Lynda Hull

In those days I thought their endless thrum
   was the great wheel that turned the days, the nights.
      In the throats of hibiscus and oleander

I’d see them clustered yellow, blue, their shells
   enameled hard as the sky before the rain.
      All that summer, my second, from city

to city my young father drove the black coupe
   through humid mornings I’d wake to like fever
      parceled between luggage and sample goods.

Afternoons, showers drummed the roof,
   my parents silent for hours. Even then I knew
      something of love was cruel, was distant.

Mother leaned over the seat to me, the orchid
   Father’d pinned in her hair shriveled
      to a purple fist. A necklace of shells

coiled her throat, moving a little as she
   murmured of alligators that float the rivers
      able to swallow a child whole, of mosquitoes

whose bite would make you sleep a thousand years.
   And always the trance of blacktop shimmering
      through swamps with names like incantations—

Okeefenokee, where Father held my hand
   and pointed to an egret’s flight unfolding
      white above swamp reeds that sang with insects

until I was lost, until I was part
   of the singing, their thousand wings gauze
      on my body, tattooing my skin.

Father rocked me later by the water,
   the motel balcony, singing calypso
      with the Jamaican radio. The lyrics

a net over the sea, its lesson
   of desire and repetition. Lizards flashed
      over his shoes, over the rail

where the citronella burned merging our
   shadows—Father’s face floating over mine
      in the black changing sound

of night, the enormous Florida night,
   metallic with cicadas, musical
      and dangerous as the human heart.


  1. I lived in Florida for nearly two years, and the imagery of this poem was quite real for me.

  2. This is such a lovely poem, full of memories and feeling. I feel so lucky to have stumbled upon your blog! I'll be happy to read more of what you have to say :)

    1. I am glad you stumbled upon my blog, too! And I do hope you'll come back for more.

  3. (Aside: My mother told me of her first summer in Galveston in 1949. The mosquitoes were so thick on the island that she couldn't see out the windows of her house.)

    What a fabulous poem this is. It's written by a poet I do not know, and I've not heard this poem before now, so I thank you for sharing it with us.

  4. Seems like a road trip through a humid insect-filled land and a curious portrait of the family. thx for sharing.


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