Giant mesquite bug
Through the fall and all winter long, the velvet mesquite protects the silent eggs
On a branch or beneath a loose strip of bark.
The tree never moves from its spot and by being still it can sense
the endless movement of the universe.
In spring, in a moment, each leaf bursts open
The green glorious tree drinks any drop of rain that may come
to the Sonoran desert.
In concert with the leaves, the eggs hatch their nymphs.
They climb the fresh tender mesquite leaves
They don’t blend in, their bodies the color of blood oranges and their legs and heads black black
Nymph upon nymph upon nymph, they are huge and undelicious
Through each instar – each stage – the Giant Mesquite Bugs grow larger and more beautiful.
It’s summer, and the tree grows its long, sweet mesquite beans
Summertime and there’s plenty
No need to fight, the bugs don’t need individuality
They hang from the branches like mistletoe.
The tree knows, I’m the only one for you, Giant Mesquite Bug, your only home
Your only sustenance
You can’t hurt me
Your red and black and white design – what did they call it? A lady’s overcoat? – it decorates me
I have pods for you and for coyotes and javelinas.
In the heat of the desert summer, when the giant thunderclouds hold promise,
The mesquite beans fall and crush and rot in the rains to release their seeds
Then, after the fifth nymphal stage, the Giant Mesquite Bug is grown.
The males, with their huge thighs, hold on the strongest to the branches in the storms.
Now they have wings
To fly to meet their mates
And then to return to the velvet mesquite
To lay the eggs that wait
Monique Soria was born in Cleveland, where her father came from Bolivia to study and her mother's family came from Belgium after World War II. Her self-description: a mix of chutzpah, joie de vivre and la creencia que somos todos una familia.