“Droom” by Margaret Chula
M.C. Escher wood engraving, 1935
The bishop reclines on tassled cushions
hands crossed at his waist
in sweet repose.
A praying mantis straddles his chest.
Legs, knobbled like rosary beads,
knead the red fabric of his robes.
Thorax and forelegs
cast a shadow over
the bishop’s trusting heart.
In the great beyond,
arches of the coliseum
hold up the night sky.
Venus and Jupiter shine out
from their glass coffin—illuminate
the antennae of the mantis
as it prepares to bite off
the bishop’s head,
just above his frilled collar.
This one-sided love—nothing
like bees and buttercups
or the honeyed wings of hummingbirds.
Prayer has turned into prey.
Mantis, Greek for prophet,
has become mandible.
Sharp teeth of the predator
sever cords, as chords of hymns
play in the young man’s head.
Who will believe the bishop
when he awakens,
church bells pealing,
his hands stroking
the thin red line
stitched across his throat?
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Margaret Chula Artist Statement:
Margaret Chula is a poet, teacher, and performance artist. She has
published seven full-‐length collections of poetry including, most
recently, Just This. Daffodils at Twilight is forthcoming from Aldrich
Press. Her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Kyoto Journal,
Poet Lore, America’s Review, Cloudbank, Windfall, Sufi Journal, West
Marin Review, and VoiceCatcher as well as in haiku journals and
anthologies around the world. She has twice been nominated for a
Pushcart Prize. Margaret has been featured at writers’ conferences
and festivals throughout the United States, as well as in Poland,
Canada, and Japan. From 2010-‐2014, she served as Poet Laureate for
Friends of Chamber Music in Portland, Oregon and is currently
president emerita of the Tanka Society of America. Having lived and
taught in Kyoto for twelve years, she currently makes her home in
Portland, Oregon, where she hikes, gardens, and creates flower
arrangements for every room of her house.