Where will we be the next time
they emerge, in 17 years,
when brood X nymphs first wriggle their way
out of exit holes, climb the trunks of oaks and maples,
sun themselves on viburnum,
pale and helpless, before their wings dry
so they can fly safely to trees to mate, lay eggs,
I'm not sure I have a concept of 17 years.
I remember Ronald Reagan was President,
I was jealous of my friend Lindsey because
she had a Debbie Gibson hat.
The Princess Bride came out, and is still
my favorite movie.
Seventeen years in the future seems daunting.
The boys at the little league field behind my house
will be men, the neighbors' dog will be dead
and the tree in my backyard
will no longer be mine.
I could be living anywhere—
not one to put down roots, I can't even guess.
Just yesterday, I realized, looking out your window,
that in less than two months
new trees will greet me from another window.
No longer the canopy of hardwoods,
but lush, tropical greens year-round
1300 miles away from you.
And though we've talked about this,
I wonder what you're thinking,
what you would like to be doing
with the seventeen years that this year's
nymphs will spend underground,
burrowing, living on the roots of all those trees.
—From A Brief History of Time
Shaindel Beers is a Professor of English at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon; the Poetry Editor of Contrary; and the host of talk radio’s Translated By. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. A Brief History of Time, her first book of poetry, is available here.