Self-portrait with Praying Mantis and Endurance by Chloe Honum


All summer, my dreams have let in rain, finding endless uses

     for the sound of wet leaves rubbing together. At dawn,

I step onto the porch and watch spiders milling about

     in their webs; sometimes they spin them inside my mailbox,

so I reach my hand in and feel, instead of emptiness, their sticky silk,

      hope, hunger. Hours turn like pages, moving a plot deeper

into heat, filled with petals and fleas and, now and then,

      a praying mantis, which strikes me as a model of dignity,

with its big green stillness, like a mind that will not be sent scuttling

      into the past. Extend the lines of the body, my ballet teacher

would say—but that was long ago, and I am trying to stay here among

      the storms, dust, and hardy plants. Hairy, bee-addled wisteria.

Papery discs of lunaria— also called moonwort, silver dollar, honesty.



Chloe Honum grew up in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. Her first book, The Tulip-Flame (2014), was selected by Tracy K. Smith for the Cleveland State University Poetry Center First Book Prize, named a finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award, and won Foreword Reviews Poetry Book of the Year Award, the Eric Hoffer Award, and a Texas Institute of Letters Award. She is also the author of a chapbook, Then Winter (Bull City Press, 2017). Chloe has been a guest poetry editor for the Pushcart Prize anthology, and her poems have appeared in such journals as The Paris Review, Poetry, Orion, and The Southern Review.