Saturday, August 27, 2016

To a Spider

I’m sorry, long-limbed, orange-limbed, tangle-limbed thing
You are too great big spotted scrunchy-eyed, multi-eyed
  Talon-armed to live
It’s worse that I found you so late in the day
After hours of reading with the brightening sky– how long were you dangling back there
  Behind my chair?
I could have been killed!
Have you no respect?

And even as I was getting up to fetch the downy wads
Which -- though “Now 3x Softer!” – are hard enough nonetheless
To enfold your doom
I was plotting out the progression of noble emotions I would feel
After the deed was done, and I obtained “distance”
And mounted from guilt to philosophic reflection
  This being a great photo-op for poetry, you see, like
Larkin and his hedgehog
Lawrence and his snake
Burns and his mouse
And his louse –
  (Has not someone, somewhere
  Even done “To a Spider,” by now?)

For even as I did it, it did cross my mind – as it did for all the others
  Might we not, after all, have found a way to live together, you and I,
  Sharing this porch? Am I really so compelled, by habitus and history
  And the customs of our kind -- 
    to do this thing we'll both regret?
Such kindly thoughts I had
While depositing your once-body into the trash bag

One notes that the poetry seldom saves them, in advance
The poet, however sensitive, still bears down
With trowel, towel, lawn mower, stone-thrower in hand
Guilt, however stinging, remains the preserve
Of the survivors, of the powerful
And whom exactly does it serve?

For one realizes that some might well have cause
To envy us our guilt – or the time we are granted to feel it –
And how little this time does for those
From whom we steal it –

But don’t I do enough, with all, you know
  Those great things that I do, so many, so many, 
  For the likes of you?
Like my half-hearted non-eating of meat 
(With fish, I admit, I’m a terrible cheat
An alimentary adulterer)

All this I say to the cotton wad
That now cannot hear me and
Never intended to dispute it.

But you’re a spider, right, you can’t really think –
And you couldn’t really feel it
Right? (Oof, best not to go near it.)

Strange how nothing quite induces terror
  Like the sight of the meek
Which makes one wonder if any of us is really weak.
For we know, whatever the world we actually inhabit
That in the land of the spiders, man
Would be running like rabbits.

Back in my chair I read on – making use of a few stolen hours
Stolen from another
Until I notice a tiny white dew-drop
Pearling on the end of a thread of the web I destroyed
An egg, perhaps – the sequel.
Preparing to avenge the one I took.

Stranded suddenly from my principles, clawing back to them from a great distance
I wonder for an instant if such an end wouldn’t better serve

The memory of the broken spider home
Than the poem.

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