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.
This man i passed in his street level window
in his old-man blue and white striped underpants
plays guitar to sheet music propped up by useless
paper stacks. In my world flowers overstay their welcome
and die, casually, a little bit every day
and i swim among the petals, like beautiful regrets,
among the art and the lies …
but the potential is there
like the smell of garlic wafting from an overcrowded
kitchen pot … this man finds a chord, i hear it from
a mile away and cry.
the first time i slept with him,
that sleep unafraid, mouth open,
not worried about drool or how my
cheeks fold and stack unattractive, i
felt like i had stepped out of
my skin, unzipped, truly naked
for the first time, thinking you’ve
never seen me before until now, you’ve
never realized how i would
lie awake waiting until your breath
cascaded slower, until your own
mouth fell aside, your soft snore my
signal: all clear to close your eyes.
in the dark spaces
i went looking for the smoke.
Thought i glimpsed it
around the dust gathering on the third stair,
followed it past open windows,
chased it through the kitchen, a hallway
filled with secret light,
i went searching high,
low, i found nothing.
Felt my way in the early dark to the deck to see a
skyline city far away, no avail. Went looking to the east
and there! I saw a ghost of myself
jumping free into dense air,
she seemed convinced of one thing.