Jared Carter


Lately there has come to me the image of 
the mantis, in autumn, among the oak leaves,
having laid her eggs, having surrendered her
contents, beginning to die, yet still sentient,
still able to look up at me, who found her
clinging to a limb – 
                                 O mortal, why are you
troubled by this image of forbearance,
this instance of self-sacrifice? Surely
it is your lot too, for day by day, year
by year, your own bowels unspool, loosen,
break inwardly upon you, taking with them
all hope, all possibility. It is the nature
of your species to deny this process, mine
to accede to it, without further ado. But
to think that such awareness is yours alone
is to be deceived, and foolish. 
that morning, years ago, when you walked
across a vast field of Queen Anne’s Lace,
and found at the base of those blossoms, 
hundreds of grasshoppers, mouths fastened
on the stalks, seeking some strange essence
contained deep in the plant itself? That
was an image of transcendence, of overcoming,
revealed to you alone, but common to all. 
While I cling here, dying, my body blown
inside out, I say to you: accept, accept
whatever you cannot see or understand,
for ultimately all will be taken from you,
even forgetfulness, that leaves no trace.


Jared Carter's most recent book of poems, The Land Itself, is from Monongahela Books in West Virginia. He lives in Indiana.

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