Dana Guthrie Martin

hat rock state park
Inside the outhouse, I stare at eyesscribbled above a horizontal crack
in the far wall. Through a small,high window, I hear my husband
talking to our dog, his voiceshifting, 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 speakabout the work of dead authors as opposedto living ones, for we know allwe will ever know about their writingand their lives. I’ve uncoveredevery guiding clue I’ll ever findabout my past. Have listened inon every secret told by other soulsloitering in this skin. But my future,who I will or won’t become,is as much a mystery as the dirtI hold in my hand, as the air I exhaleto blow that dirt high into the sky.

praying mantis
The first appeared two days ago, on a concrete wallin early afternoon. The wall held the day’s heat long after the air let it go.The second came yesterday, perched on the sidingof my home. On the white paint, she turned
her green head, copper antennas cocked,as if trying to suss me out. The third I foundnearly dead on my welcome mat when I openedthe 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 alonethree in as many days. I’ve read that the mantiscomes when we need to hear the small voice
within, through the din of the world. They appearas teachers who show us both stillness and how to move with grace.I lifted the mantis to my chest, my hands in looseprayer. 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 wasalone 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).