I think the mantis must taste like a high A
as it scalds through an alto sax: tangy, wounding, green.
The tamarisk branch sounds her with a single breath.
The wasp gall, speckled as a festive egg, and
fuchsia stars full of midge that bloom like urchins,
unexpectedly, on the underside of leaves
are more the work of a cornet that has flashed
through an octave of fat, shiny notes,
scattering them whole on the valley oaks.
Metal-bright, the creek is a timpani whose skin
shakes to the brush of mallets, whose ripples roll
easily as breathing. For today, Putah means instrument.
Ratus ratus lumbers under cottonwood litter:
a tubby, wandering bass line roving the bank.
And the walking stick, thready on tinder
legs, bows the air, accompanied by reeds
and flutes of false bamboo. The acerbic mantis
rears in prayer, devours scores with a blink.
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