This fellow said that seeing the Delicate Arch was a religious experience. I immediately both did not doubt this possibility and thought that he was full of shit.
But later I was looking at some lichens and mosses on the trunk of my parents’ old Redbud tree, colors on textures on colors on textures, and the shape of its form of sun-gathering: dispersed, almost horizontal lily pad-like leaves arrayed along multiple overlapping planes, and I realized that the feeling that I’d been experiencing was probably what he meant by “religious.”
The surface of the earth had erupted, was now pockmarked with severe holes made solid around their edges by the intermittent rain. Along the Iris leaves were lines of crusted empty Cicada shells and newly wet young, like an army in disarray, wings at various levels of unwrinkling.
Few creatures seem to serve a purpose so brutally outside themselves: they are the vitamin an eco-system takes every 17 years, a nutrient boost. The few days they have are marked by an eruption and a re-birth. Carcasses from across the spectrum of development litter the ground, drowned before they were born or eaten or too soggy / didn’t dry out fast enough. They’d spent 17 years in some larval darkness, curled and tender just beneath the surface of my parent’s lawn and now, if they’d made it this far, they mate, and their asses fall of.
They screamed for a few days (their tiny tomato matte red eyes with what I suspect to be a false pupil suggesting both blindness and the demonic), then began to fall apart.
I watched as one third of one- lacking a thorax, a wing, and three to four legs- pushed itself along backwards and upside down, in circles on the concrete. Every once in awhile something would catch and it would tip on end, its face on the ground, its one wing vertical, close to the tipping point, its tiny remaining limbs impotently tracing circles in the air… but it never managed to right itself.