Bio Note: I live off a dirt road in the backwoods of NJ. My husband, Mr Byro, is a soothsayer. He spends most of the night playing the banjo to our gang of cats. This gives me space to create my breathless wordscapes. I see them as feral creatures which have escaped from the cage of my imagination and established a free life in the shared world.
Living in the Body of a Cicada
Singing all day and much of the night is exhausting, given our small physiques. Alas, we need to make our mark in the world. To be clear, we are not a parasite a scourge sent by God to punish the earth. The ignorant mistake us for locusts. In my mind, we are troubadours, born of a more regal empire, more like a cricket in that we are a welcome sign. Each romantic journey through literature, each stroke of art shows us to be elevated to nobility. Like royalty, we can be found in all the best places: location, location, location. Try suffering on a hibiscus in Corfu. I have cousins in China who remember each grunt as the great wall was lifted. Others prefer a market town in Provence filled with strawberries, Irises and greet the earth with the satisfaction of knowing winter is at an end. I realize we are demonized and disliked. But we are more misunderstood than evil, just as forsythia is a sign of Spring, our song can open a golden flower. Regardless of how bad the winter, an optimist knows we will wander and daydream from the beginning and end of time. Which is why in this clear April sunshine, I sip oak-sap, and honor my hamlet of Kavos by making a big noise, in an otherwise tacky town.
Living in the Body of a Firefly
Cotton mouthed, hung over, I wake up in my sooty dress somehow ashamed to be seen in the utter waste of daylight. The barbecue with all those mint juleps on the verandah was intense but I strayed too long on the edge of a glass. I long for a quiet train trestle, wood and paint chipping off, not those city lights where I am one of millions. I’m not fooled by the low murmurings of the river, cattails to luxuriate in, but danger in the deep-throated baritone of frogs. Damselflies are entirely self-involved and bossy, known to eat out of their own behinds. Never mind, there’s safety in numbers. A neighbor has an easy split in a porch screen and as I’m on a tear of wild nights before I die, I’ve set my sights on their cathedral ceiling. In the sway of tall grasses his youngest cups her hands around me to pray. I am coveted in the moist chapel of fingers. Tonight, I’ll hang around until they are all half lidded-drowsy. I’ll skitter down to her favorite blanket where she’ll wish upon me like I am the last star falling, the last creature on earth.
Originally published in Luna Aldrich Press 2015
Living in the Body of a Scorpion
I grow old I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. TS Eliot Rumor has it that we are powerful, but left to our own devices, we aren’t that much. A Goddess thought she tamed us, but through naming us, we were released from our poison. Words are more heady than life or death, by swerving a path through imagination, that is release. Compassion, we have no use for it. Is a man any less dead because of wishing it so? Are we less dangerous without sinister intent? Hear what I say, it was a woman who polluted our stinger with remorse. We are what we are, something you can depend on. That makes us reliable and comforting, ancient and closer to god than to the fickle nature of the devil. It would be foolish to believe that my brothers and I are earnest in our endeavors for peace. To exist, we rely on higher blood, both kinds, theirs and ours.
Originally published in La Dogeressa Cowboy Buddha Press 2018
©2020 Laurie Byro
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