Merril D. Smith

Us and Them

A praying mantis perches 
on the kitchen door screen. 

I watch as she flexes, 
her legs stretch gracefully,  

then a plié, and turning out
like a ballerina, she raises her head
and seems to sniff the air. 

Does she sense me there
behind the glass-- 

consider me as I consider her,
intrigued and frightened?  

Female hunter, predator,
and prey— 

she eats the flies invading 
my home, surviving to reproduce. 

If she landed on my arm,
I’d instinctively swat, 

protecting myself 
from her, 

this alien creature.
But she has gone, 
and I am forgotten.

Merril D. Smith is the author of several books of history, gender, and sexuality. Her poetry and creative nonfiction has been published or is forthcoming in Vita Brevis, Streetlight Press, Rhythm and Bones, and The Same. She muses about life, the universe, and everything, including cats, at