Animals: “praying mantis” by Natasha King

praying mantis

            who are we, if not the living?

watch me scrub my face after the gory kill. watch me unblade my arms unblood my face unsate my hunger watch I will hunt once more the living in their arterial sacred spaces but first listen I do not intend to be all praying all preying all the time you see I know too how to be warm.

            warmth as dust and viscera

            warmth as grace and ravening angles

            warmth as hunger and hands and the heaving of my chest

in between hunter and hunted in between blood and joy and feast in between I want to be soft and unarmored. in the narrow spaces of my loveliest brittle body I want to be heartfelt hungry held—listen to me as the world is a concatenation of jewels and moments so are we.

            warmth as blood or sunlight on a tongue or a mandible

            warmth as grace and gristle caught on the lips and the palms

            warmth as the body I inhabit devour bleed breed breathe

with such wanton love with such terrible aching with—no listen to me like you I am an exoskeleton of contradictions look at me in my vicious grace I have scrubbed my face clean I have set the table I have sharpened my knives I

            eat light, and long for the clumsiness of the human hand.

About Natasha King

Natasha King is a Vietnamese American writer and nature enthusiast currently living in North Carolina. She enjoys thinking about the ocean, about heritage, about place, about human connection, about the winds of revolution, about the tiny thrill of glimpsing an animal’s shape in the undergrowth. Her poetry has appeared in Okay Donkey, Oyster River Pages, Constellate, and others; she can be found on Twitter as @pelagic_natasha.