To Listen



    We are listening to the last of the cicadas,
    In June we woke to their raucous applause,
    drowning the first cockcrow, the dogs’ bark.
    A raw euphoria, strident natural agape,

    Life broadcasting itself. But now in September
    The percussion starts late and the timbre has gone.
    The defiant cock on the hill is loud prima donna.
    And today there’s a small corpse at the door,

    Upside down, black-brown; in the dust weightless.
    Its thin wings are the stilled flutter of veined light.
    In the next gust of wind it will vanish with summer,
    The long hot days. In the early hours – listen! – it’s raining.

    In the air, grown suddenly chill, there’s an unfamiliar sound:
    Water dripping on parched leaves, the burnt racked ground.


    Peter Abbs is Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Sussex. He is the
    author of a number of books on aesthetic education and eleven volumes of poetry. The most
    recent Voyaging Out was published by Salt in 2009.