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My mother’s surgery delayed hours
away, I am trying to talk to someone in preop
from the crosscut sidewalk by a parking lot
when I see it—legs up, with just a quiver

of what life is left. I put the phone on speaker,
the grimy piano of on-hold music
confronting Michigan wind as I tear a twig
from a hazel, maybe, tree, and offer her

front folded legs my wand. She hooks it, faint,
and from exhaust pipes and footsteps I carry
her dangling, to the bole of my hazel tree.
Mantis, Greek for prophet. When prophets pray,

it must be differently. In an old poem,
a young man travels to an omniscient sea
god who asks him, “What do you want?,” and he
replies, “You know!” But most prophets don’t know

it all. They pray into the cloudy spots,
navigating certainties like mapped
sea stacks of rock along a coast. She has
become more stick than herself, more camouflage

than what she hides, not green, but a ruddy brown;
a shade of hair color some might pay to wear,
but it doesn’t look good on her,
it looks like death. Please don’t be an omen,

I say to her. I pray to her? Please don’t 
let her be an omen. I push dirt into raised
rows around her, so she doesn’t blow away
in the still strong wind, and still, too, the piano.