Michelle Detorie


Even her eggs are camouflaged, laid
like sins on a gray leaf, way
up in the canopy of pink
where legs like petals mount
a bloom—a body buttressed by stems
crawling over itself. Purple-red, splotches
spilled lichen-like over the flap
where the flora—pulseless
and thin—unpeel their soft
mouths and part
their hip-lips. And then,
its as though a hooked tongue
lives inside her skin. Mandibles
sink into the crisp disc
of lavender-white flesh. Sepal-shaped,
he has no choice but to bend
beneath her wing-weight.
She eats. Not the flower but
her lover: her mate bowed
inside out—turned over
and tasted. Tongue like a dart
emptying him out. Behind
her, new buds gleam;
pearl-petal wings forming—full
of the future—curled
within that florid foil.



I wrote "Orchid Mantis" after a shopping spree in the clearance section of our local used bookstore. I'd bought an entire set of those Time-Life nature books. They were faded and musty on the outside, but the pictures within were still bright and mesmerizing. I found a picture of the orchid mantis that I used in a collage, and decided to make a word collage / poem to go with the picture.