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Now that the sun has vanished and the desert air turned cold,
some of the insects vanish, but others have turned bold.
Small winged gnats bask under the lamplight’s surrogate sun.
Motionless, they seem to sleep, their daylight flitters done.
They colonize the body of the terrace table lamp,
sunning in the bulb’s bright glow, absorbing every amp.
A single different visitor ascends my sister’s back,
as though he seeks the warmth and light the night air seems to lack.
She does not feel his presence. So far, he’s brought no harm.
He spreads out on the blanket of her light-warmed arm.
More stick-with-arms than insect, he seems inclined to stay.
Secure in his establishment, it seems as though he may
settle there for good, but then he chooses to decamp
by making an impromptu leap onto the terrace lamp.
Motionless, as though caught up in silent meditation,
nothing seems to interrupt his profound cogitation.
But then he leaps up higher, closer to the light,
the globe’s gleam growing warmer at this greater height.
The smaller denizens of light seem calm and unperturbed.
They continue slumbers largely undisturbed,
but suddenly I notice their numbers have diminished,
the mantis washing off his arms as though he has just finished.
He draws one and then another arm through his lethal jaws,
as though they’re violin bows moving without pause.
His music has no volume. The sawing of his bows
creates no funeral music. No sins do they expose.
For awhile he stands unmoving, the heat and light ideal
for aiding his digestion of his midnight meal.
The moon cuts through the darkness, dividing it in layers
as the unmoving mantis seems to say his prayers.
Then, when he leaps into the dark, I turn out the light
and trundle off to bed as well, bidding you good night.