The Prayer of the Mantis



Hold the water within the cupped roses


Until the water itself is rose in my mouth

And plentiful.


Break the motion

Of the chrysanthemums beneath my feet,

So that the ambush contains all of my stealth

And just a soft touch, no heavier than sigh,

Precedes the dying of the young beetles.


Keep the lovers

In this, my own garden,


And make them numerous.

But still the commotion of their own fears

Before they come to me,

And sow a quiet in that small place after my anger.


Let the night bear

More of the heavy moths

Which are finer than the silky worms of the spiderwort.

They cheer me when they batter the air so softly,

Lifting me slightly towards the moon

Before they die.


And, of my one thousand children,

Find one greater mother than myself

To stretch along the stems of the blackberry

Where the aphids are harvested best

And where the pollen heavy bees

Grow languid in my reach.


And last,

Remember that, but for you,

I have always been alone and, of this, tolerant.

So forgive me for the evenings I forgot to speak to you,

Because often the rifted sky of lights

Stunned me there on the swaying lily

And broke my thought of you off.

It is possible to be both silent and grateful

And, in the end,

I have not asked for much.



        Herschel Raney