She stands a watch that none can imitate;
the sentinel of orchard sprig and vine,
In perfect stillness solemnly her wait
thwarts impatient passing of the time.
One hollows at the shimmer of her eyes
that, mounted in her fearless head of spade,
glare openly, yet so discreet, so sly
these orbs of ancient oriental jade.
She has no movement save but in her breath
that almost imperceptibly she takes;
in sacred silence, this prophetess of death,
appears to sleep, though ever she awakes.
Her hands are folded tight in fervent prayer,
but praying she is less than preying for
what unsuspecting preyed-on victim there
might chance upon the mantis nevermore.
Who of her kind would court this puissant queen,
allured by vicious elegance of poise
unto that lusty ritual supreme
and mount her sleek gossamer she employs,
is hostage to an irony profound;
that when he enters union with his mate,
it was ordained that cruelly fixed and bound
this deed would end his short-lived shallow fate.
For while his phallic rhythm carries on
our queen proceeds to long devour his head,
and lavishly consume with a rare wanion
his whole flesh that still persists though he is dead.
When at last her sanguine urge is satisfied,
her lace-wings preened, her hands washed clean and dry,
she resumes with calm reserve and solemn pride
her stately pose of prayerful preying on the vine.
Written May 13, 2001
Photograph by Paul van Hoof