In the gathering dark of a summer night, the boy runs in circles under pear trees, the air heavy with the grinding screech of thirteen-year cicadas. He was not a thought in anyone’s head when these insects filled the summer nights on their last go ‘round. His parents and his aunt were teenagers –– preening, kissing, driving blurs of hope and insecurity. Now they lounge around a table on the patio, eating watermelon and sighing as they try to shrug off the cares of the day.
Exhausted and heedless of all this wonder going on. The cicadas are checking in after thirteen years to see how things are holding up. A lot has changed and also, nothing much. Soon they’ll stop their singing and go back underground, secure in the knowledge that another boy will carry the magic and after him, another . . . .
“Look at me!” he calls a few times and then gives himself over to the extraordinary night and the sweet remnants of melon in his mouth and the sparkling sticks in his hands and the din of the winged beings. He comes back again and again crying, “Another! Another!” The grown-ups laugh and light another sparkler for him. Admonishing him to be careful, they are steadfast and solid in their adulthood. They’ve had a rough day with computers, cars and phones. Mountains being made of molehills. They deserve to sit quietly out here in the night after dinner. They anchor him to this world.
His grandmother sees, though. She does. She is old enough to have been overworked, tired and jaded and to have come back from all that to the wonder that is this moment and this child under these trees, ablaze with sparklers and cicada song on a hot summer night. He may not remember. He is not yet four. So she will remember for him. She will burn it into her memory and she will write it down for him to find some day when he is older and becoming jaded himself. You can not lose the magic, she will say. It’s in your bones and your DNA. You must carry it out into the tired and broken world, my dear one. You are the magic.
And one day, a lot of times from now, as he would say, from the long-buried memories of watermelon sugar and sparklers on a summer night, just like the cyclical cicadas, he will re-emerge and bring forth another, to keep the magic alive in the world.
And so it goes, round and round. . . we emerge and go under, emerge and go under again, but always we are the keepers of magic, singing our summer songs, remembering and re-remembering, shedding our skins and beginning again.