I watch a praying mantis seesaw
with purpose across the sidewalk
to a bush ablaze in red flowers and bees.
She swings like a monkey onto a branch—
waits patiently for the scenery to blend
into her limbs, her terrifying triangular face.
The bee never sees her arms, only feels
the squeeze of twigs that prevent flying.
The mantis has it in her embrace—
has the audacity to look the bee in the face,
to eat its head first, meticulously as it struggles
to get away. She crunches into the wings next.
And, I stay. I watch this whole horrific
display in our orderly suburban shrubs.
What else goes on here, hidden beneath
a branch? Which twigs cannot be trusted?
What in nature makes a creature kill
this way? To eat carefully as another
writhes in pain? If the mantis prays,
what does she say to the God above us?
Poem by Katie Kemple
Katie Kemple’s poetry has appeared in the anthology, “Oh One Arrow” (Flim Forum Press, 2007), and recently in the journals What Rough Beast (2019) and The Dewdrop (2020). She can be found on her patio in San Diego, attempting to paint hummingbirds, figs, and succulents.