Praying Mantis – Penelope Schott

It crouched on the clean white lid
of the toilet seat

like a green tail-dragger Piper Cub
about to take off.

This was a building in Manhattan;
I was a city child.

I’d met cockroaches and sugar ants
but never a bug like this.

The wedge of its knobby head
rose inches high.

We stared at each other
eye to eye, I and this insect

come to visit six-year-old me
right here in apartment 13A.

Suddenly I believed
in dinosaurs and fairies.

I stood expecting this green insect
to speak my secret name.

Penelope SchottPenelope Scambly Schott is a past recipient of the Oregon Book Award for Poetry. Recent books are HOUSE OF THE CARDAMOM SEED and NOVEMBER QUILT. Penelope lives in Portland and Dufur, Oregon.