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Dana Guthrie Martin

hat rock state park

Inside the outhouse, I stare at eyes
scribbled above a horizontal crack

in the far wall. Through a small,
high window, I hear my husband

talking to our dog, his voice
shifting, like wind, into the distance.

it’s not easy to write about who i am

Much easier to discuss who I once was,
in the same way it’s easier to speak
about the work of dead authors as opposed
to living ones, for we know all
we will ever know about their writing
and their lives. I’ve uncovered
every guiding clue I’ll ever find
about my past. Have listened in
on every secret told by other souls
loitering in this skin. But my future,
who I will or won’t become,
is as much a mystery as the dirt
I hold in my hand, as the air I exhale
to blow that dirt high into the sky.

praying mantis

The first appeared two days ago, on a concrete wall
in early afternoon. The wall held the day’s heat
                                                    long after the air let it go.
The second came yesterday, perched on the siding
of my home. On the white paint, she turned

her green head, copper antennas cocked,
as if trying to suss me out. The third I found
nearly dead on my welcome mat when I opened
the door this morning. She lay on her back,

walking legs bent across her body,
                                         trying to find grounding in air.
I’ve gone ten years without seeing one, let alone
three in as many days. I’ve read that the mantis
comes when we need to hear the small voice

within, through the din of the world. They appear
as teachers who show us both stillness and how
                                                           to move with grace.
I lifted the mantis to my chest, my hands in loose
prayer. I sat as still as I could, hoping to usher her

out of the world the same way she lived within it.
She settled slowly, front legs folded under her chin,
in the pose from which she takes her name. Soon I was
alone with her body, her prayer still held inside my own.

Dana Guthrie Martin is a writer, editor and poet who lives in a town called Walla Walla, situated in the county seat of Walla Walla County in Washington state. She shares her home with her partner, their chihuahua, and a very old hermit crab named Palmer. Her work includes Toward What Is Awful (YesYes Books, forthcoming), In the Space Where I Was (Hyacinth Girl Press, forthcoming) and The Spare Room (Blood Pudding Press, 2009).