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  • Writer's pictureKayleigh Willis

'Paper-Thin' by Jonathan Fletcher


I stepped on a praying mantis yesterday,

the act unintentional, irreversible,

my apologies sincere, profuse.

Can the dead forgive?

All that was once inside the worshipper

now lay atop the pavement,

as lime in color

as the leaves, creased like origami.

Who designed the antennae and thorax?

Or the wings,

each set as fragile as koiy?

I see exoskeletal segmentation,

as well-defined as papered folds,

though no proof the Origamist exists.

Is life the art?


I wanted to cup the mantid in my hands,

smooth out its creases, tape up its tears,

blow gently into its mandibles,

expand its abdomen like

a paper balloon.

If I can take life, why can’t I

breathe it back?

But I no longer believe I’m in the grasp

of invisible fingers, ones that press

and pull, animate and destroy.

Who says dexterity needs Divinity?


It’s an art to lose such certainty yet still

try to paper the world beautiful, fill it

with figures as fragile and dear

to me as models to their Origamist.

My eyes crinkle in marvel, whenever I


the creations I’ve made move, live:

a paper crane flap, a paper frog hop.

All Rights. Jonathan Fletcher.

Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Jonathan Fletcher (he/him/his), a BIPOC writer, currently

resides in New York City, where he is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing in

Poetry at Columbia University’s School of the Arts.  He has been published in Arts Alive San

Antonio, The BeZine, Clips and Pages, Door is a Jar, DoubleSpeak, Flora Fiction, FlowerSong Press, fws: a journal of literature & art, Half Hour to Kill, Lone Stars, New Feathers, OneBlackBoyLikeThat Review, riverSedge, Synkroniciti, The Thing Itself, TEJASCOVIDO, Unlikely Stories Mark V, Voices de la Luna, and Waco WordFest. His work has also been featured at The Briscoe Western Art Museum.

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