Alison Jauss



    This summer they are stitching
    from the hanging plants
    pale & translucent
    as nightgowns. Or velvety,
    almost caressable. Or
    slim & fiery. They linger
    on my porch after dark
    like neighbor women
    whispering. What secrets
    do I untangle
    as I water the ferns,
    the thin braids of each web rained
    open? How bare,
    almost lonely, I feel crouching
    beneath them, as if their staring lit
    my shoulders & hair
    with reproach.
    And maybe it doesit's so easy
    to drift through that architecture,
    the perfect, impermanent web
    which is almost invisible, like ice.
    So many times I've felt the crawling
    silk of it on my skin.


    After storms I see spiders
    as if dead, holding on to one wisp
    of web. Then, once it is safe & rainless,
    begins the spider's restructuring,
    tender, articulate. I wish
    I had such a gesture,
    instinctual, impressive,
    for every silence that passes through me.
    Then I would be mindless,
    & accurate. Isn't that grace
    the spider knitting
    and knitting without love
    or strain & suddenly this veil the wind
    wears is swaying,
    the spider sits in its strict
    posture waiting . . . And if I wait too,
    long enough to watch the beautiful
    kill, the new web
    will loom & shiver
    to life before me, already so much absence
    showing through. I envy
    the ballet it takes
    the severe, involved face
    tranced patient
    by instinct. Look
    how it works & reworks
    against the void of air, pricking the invisible
    with the thinnest needles.
    If I had that soothing grace
    the delicate silver that spools out
    from the spider's touch
    would I caress
    the terrible faces
    I've passed in shame?
    Of course I'd be called insane.
    But for that moment,
    my hand drifting in love
    the way a spider brushes the air
    like a kiss, a cleansing . . . .



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G. Heifren