Over lunch, a mantis settled for my Stella de Oro day lilies in the
blazing west sun on my roof deck in Baltimore. A capricious whim,
or calculated move – its motivation irrelevant. To the immediate south,
basil sage perfume, and wild-eyed purple petunia. Air conditioners
hummed mildly for the mantis on a deepening yellow bloom and
just as motionless as a cat perched two roofs away. I watched, captivated.
I willed the insect to move. Electricity rushed the wires. A car door closed.
Wind rustled pollen loose as a police helicopter
charged us to the east. Not one spindly leg twitched. I looked up.
– a liminal space, a sudden tumblingwhirring cacophony of
and good blocks
and protection, and
bad blocks and
and grief and so much grief –
Then looked down. Mantis had moved while the rotor blades roared.
It perched upside down mindful, head bowed,
tiny insect arms set in prayer. Steady as the sirens followed
like clockwork. Steady as we thought of our neighbors, knowing not a single one.
she shook him hard in his blankets “i was dreaming – i saw you drown” she breathed hard, continued,
“the haze blurred our overgrown backyard the humidity oppressing the few purple wildflowers and the strange cat beneath the willow we walked to the river. you yelled for a swim but i couldn’t– leaving fast for the fire burning our old family photographs our memories, our life, so i blew out the flames and i … i couldn’t see you the sky was thundering dark the waves devoured the shore it was then i saw your eyes you didn’t smile as you sank – i was trapped on the shore – then i woke. i… i had to tell you.”
she took a deep breath, waiting but he had rolled over snoring waves beneath ripples of a blue-green quilt.
twitch sip long draw through a thin plastic straw twitch glance the club over like suited man lip praises women flaunting red twitch sip hip swagger walk to the bar as the pull sounds like a purr purr this kitty city needs a sip smack more
he baits a vulpine’s trap with flexed bronzed arms in clothing torn his romantic poverty in thick rough hands liberal on my thighs his predilection a whispered ancient cry– make love to me
if i say no, he thunders with a searing pernicious desire — he is not my handsome farmer but instead immortal desperate for one small glimpse of my delicious joy — sweat sweet color till dirt grit between my teeth.
he looked at her like she was the most beautiful woman, spotlighted inspiration, but when she caught him he looked away fast, averting,
it was then she pressed her hand forcefully through air determined, long fingers straining for that fine art of waving goodbye, pressed her hand and let it stain the air strain the silence of an unspoken conversation that always ended so abruptly… suddenly… …