Poetry / Amy Wright

:: Hymenopus ::

	Environment: Room temperature, mist daily. 
			—Bugs as Pets

Walking flower, dandy
orchid mimicker with rose-mottled 
forelegs, transformer petals
ready to drawbridge on the hapless.
Tart mantis, nectar decoy
who waits and is rewarded
for manipulating the stage show,
proffering an empty banquet
before ticklish curtains, 
your pollen-lined thorax 
a bestial trick of the great 
pretender. Rare specimen 
who traverses the lip of a lady 
slipper, a bluebottle buzzes 
your lavender ovules, unblinking 
skyward, raindrops wetting 
the bittersweet chasm 
of your badness.



From the writer

:: Account ::

I am not a par­ent, but when I saw the book Bugs as Pets, I imag­ined being or hav­ing the kind of par­ents who would facil­i­tate such a wild learn­ing expe­ri­ence for their chil­dren. No Gold­en Retriev­ers here! If I gleaned patience from train­ing the Labradors of my youth to sit, and received affec­tion­ate thanks in the form of hand licks, I won­dered what mem­o­ries and insight would come of hav­ing a pet one might not, in most cas­es, actu­al­ly pet.

Look­ing through this book was part of the research for my cur­rent man­u­script about insects, which calls atten­tion to the often-unseen pop­u­la­tion crawl­ing and fly­ing and swim­ming around us. Hav­ing grown up on a farm, I devel­oped a love of lady­bee­tles and June bugs play­ing in the fields and woods around our house. Nat­u­ral­ly, I was alarmed when I learned about Colony Col­lapse Dis­or­der and how pes­ti­cides con­tain­ing neonic­i­toids (banned in Europe and recent­ly in Eugene, Ore­gon) are killing hon­ey­bees and oth­er species of pol­li­na­tors. I am respond­ing by pay­ing homage to the crea­tures that con­tribute bil­lions of dol­lars each year to our econ­o­my and the bio­di­ver­si­ty of our planet.

The Orchid Man­tis, or Hymeno­pus, stood out to me as a par­tic­u­lar­ly rich metaphor wait­ing to be writ­ten. With its laven­der rain­drop eyes and gor­geous­ly omi­nous mandibles, it illus­trates to me how beau­ty is that truth John Keats promis­es is “all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” It is a hard­er les­son than we might think or want—especially for our chil­dren, which is why the con­text of the book needs to remain with the poem in the form of the epigraph.

I hope that some read­ers note the sci­en­tif­ic name, which recalls my mind to the ancient fear of the female body, for it too has petals that can con­sume you or be con­sumed. There may be no greater risk than to be tak­en in by anoth­er, but how can we not? Love is a merg­er. This flower mim­ic under­stands the appeal and inevitable threat. It makes its liv­ing cap­i­tal­iz­ing on what oth­ers want, but who is to say the fly is good and the man­tis bad? Humans can, but with a ques­tion­able abil­i­ty to judge and bias when they decide. Our nature is entan­gled with theirs in the last line, as we are all bound up in each other’s fates, whether we real­ize it or not.


Amy Wright is the Non­fic­tion Edi­tor of Zone 3 Press, the author of four chap­books, and the recip­i­ent of a Peter Tay­lor fel­low­ship for the Keny­on Review Writ­ers’ Work­shop. Her work appears in Belling­ham Review, Brevi­ty, Drunk­en Boat, Quar­ter­ly West, South­ern Poet­ry Anthol­o­gy (Vol­umes III and VI), Tupe­lo Quar­ter­ly, and is forth­com­ing in POOL and Keny­on Review.