Robert Francis


If you have watched a moulting mantis
With exquisite precision and no less
Exquisite patience, extricate itself
Leaf-green and like a green leaf clinging
Little by little, leg by leg
Out of its chitin shell, you likewise know
How one day coaxes itself out of another
Slowly, slowly by imperceptible degrees
Of gray, and having fully emerged, pauses
To dry its wings.

Robert Francis, Collected Poems, 1936-1976,
University of Massachusetts Press, 1985.