like little stained pearls
all glossy opaque and tan.
he pulls back the wings so that
I can see underneath
where it turns red.
It is bone and tendon, vessels wrapping.
There is no meat here.
Everyone just crushes them he says.
turning the insect over so that
it’s segmented stomach
the plates of armor are visible.
and this one, he says,
pulling out another tray,
look at this.
It’s a praying mantis,
it’s legs stretched out
like an sacrifice, pinned to the board.
It is so green it is almost violent,
and the desire to both look away and to touch is overwhelming.
They don’t look different,
these creatures, when they are dead
then when they are alive.
Flesh loses the soul,
its elasticity turns taunt and stiff,
there is a harsh change you cannot undo.
But these creatures, their hard scrabble
crunching lives, they still stare up at me
segmented eyes, beaded like dew, watching, always watching,
claws, shining under the light, at their mouth
legs with jagged teeth
wings like handmade paper, veined
ready to un-tack from this prison
like cilia pumping on the first water insect,
the need for survival quickening the heart.
22 hours ago