The Love Song of the Mole Cricket

 Summer in the Catskills, the days long and warm, the air humming with insects. Squirrels dangle from branches, trying to steal seeds out of bird feeders. The steep mountains  are carpeted with trees.

In 1800, giant hemlocks, 80-100 ft. tall had covered these ridges. But by 1850 most had been cut down, their acidic bark stripped from their trunks to tan leather. The naked bones of the hemlocks still lie throughout these mountains, great trunks rotting in damp shade. In the glooming of the forest, their stumps, many three or four feet across, rise like mossy tombstones among the slender beech.

Yellow warblers, red and purple finch, Indigo Buntings and Rose-breasted Grosbeak abound in the once hemlock, now beech, wood. They are crepuscular, serenading the dawn and dusk with liquid song.  In the morning, Scarlet Tanagers flash from tree to tree bright as flying apples.

I listen to crickets, measuring the rhythm of the night. I count the number of chirrups he can hear in fourteen seconds, then add forty. That makes it 69 degrees. Kinda useless knowledge, being able to calculate the exact temperature…If you get lost in the woods you know if you need a fire or to find shade… Knowing the temperature is not a skill that will help you survive a blizzard…You die with a number on your lips is all. Maybe crickets are reincarnated accountants.

A male cricket chirps nearby, faithfully records the temperature. He is not a reincarnated accountant and rather resents the suggestion. The world is, after all, made of numbers; trees carefully calculate where to best find sun… Pinecones and plants order their leaves and their scales with numerical precision… The cricket admires the truth in formulas and the simplicity of numbers. A number does not drop soft as a wish or sweet as love. It does not drift like a feather, fall like a stone it just is. Numbers are truth in art.

The cricket is much more artist than accountant. Why, he wonders,  do humans always imagine that other beings are reincarnated humans? I bet this idiot is a rencarnated slim mold. Just then a female hops up,  ending further speculation, action being at that moment, of more import than ideas. 

Under the base of the cricket’s front wing he has a thick, ridged vein strong as a file (a weak file, but a file nonetheless.) The top of his wing is hard and stiff. While contemplating calculation and reincarnation, he’s been fiddling for a female by bowing the file of one wing across the hard top of the other. He is right winged, as most crickets are. The thin, papery portions of his wings vibrate, amplifying the sound.

Wing application is not enough for this cricket. He is a mole cricket. Mole crickets are the rock stars of the cricket world. He is fiddling from inside of the megaphone-shaped entrance of a tunnel he has excavated. When he fiddles from inside his foyer, the sound goes to eleven. He can be heard for more than mile around.

When the female hops up, coy and demure in a pale green exoskeleton that emphasizes her eyes, he is instantly set adrift is a sea of desire. He immediately begins to chirp a courtship song of love, fulfillment and regeneration. 

and I am left alone, counting the stars.


About E.E. King

E.E. King’s has published many short stories. Ray Bradbury calls E.E. King a writer “marvelously inventive, wildly funny and deeply thought provoking. I can not recommend her highly enough.” HER NEW COLLECTION new Collection of Short Fiction “Another Happy Ending,” comes out in October 2013. There is a book launch and party @ Ray Bradbury’s favorite Bookstore Mystery and Imagination Bookstore October 20th @ 2:00 -3:00pm Her first novel, Dirk Quigby’s Guide to the Afterlife, came out 2010, released in Spanish in 2/2012. She is performing bits of "Dirk Quigby’s Guide to the Afterlife, all you need to know to choose the right heaven.” (in costume) October 30th @ 7:30-8:30 @Echo Park in “Stories Book and Café.” 1716 West Sunset Blvd • Los Angeles • CA [213] 413-3733 The New Short Fiction Series, Los Angeles’ longest running spoken word series, launched her anthology, Real Conversations With Imaginary Friends, 1/2012. Sponsor, Barnes & Noble. All her books as well as her children’s book The Adventures of Emily Finfeather or The Feathernail and Other Gifts are currently available on audible. E.E. King is the recipient of various international writing, biology and painting grants. Her murals can be seen in Downtown Los Angeles and Spain. Elizabeth Eve King has a background in teaching, painting, theater, comedy and biology. She will be an artist in residence at the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art June -Sept 2015 Ms. King is the recipient of two International Tides painting fellowships, and two international biology Earthwatch grants. She was an advisor for the J. Paul Getty’s and the Science Center’s, Arts &; Science program. She was the Science and Arts coordinator in Bosnia with Global Children’s Organization (a summer camp for war orphans and refugees) in 2000. She was the founding Arts & Sciences Director for Esperanza Community Housing Corporation . She’s worked with children in Bosnia, crocodiles in Mexico, frogs in Puerto Rico, egrets in Bali, mushrooms in Montana, archaeologists in Spain and planted butterfly gardens in South Central Los Angeles. The butterflies wish she had chosen a different location. Her short stories have been published widely
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