She bows her triangular head

and closes her huge eyes.

She folds her forelegs,

spiked and raptorial,

as she prays:


I thank you for blessing me

to bring blessings to others.

I thank you for making me

a snake, a hare, a vulture,

and now this green mantis.

They follow me

to their long-lost homes.

They follow me

to their graves.


Some say I’m a soothsayer.

To others, I am a queenly bitch.

Some call me a necromancer.


But you know me

and always have.

You made me as I am

and as I am not.


So the mantis prayed

before her meal this day,

a helpless grasshopper,

still alive.

Prey held by

the same bent hands

from which her prayer

had been offered.


The mantis ate,

beginning with an eye,

munching more slowly

than a beast with his cud.

Hours later there was nothing

left but the glow of dusk,

halo of hunt and thanksgiving.

the prayer of the mantis

Jacob Friesenhahn teaches Religious Studies and Philosophy at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. His poems have appeared in BOMBFIRE, Burrow, Calla Press, Canary, The Lake Front, Litbreak Magazine, and Nostalgia Press.