THE GARDEN SPIDER

 After bone-wrenching battle of vanquished dreams
in which my body’s bag was born,
torn and tamed by drenching rains
as lightning nightmare made my hair curl,
there came a cool and conscious light of dawn.

Rising—more colliding—I collapsed
and gasped my way, I took
the soaked imaginings of my hide
to the far end of a remoter yard,
felt each stone underfoot like a numbered day.

There, between the gnarled root of an oak
and the bird-bath’s broken basin—
some violence of weather or of time
had severed from its stem—which stood apart,
I watched him working to rebuild the web
that rain had ruined with its careless claps,

his home and hopes but torn and tattered threads
hanging in long and gossamer strands.
The spider, tiny and frail, did not despair.
His spinning, whether of will or instinct,
came unbidden. I wondered how he did it
which was hidden as I watched.

But in unwinning pride or dumb oblivion
the creature held me fast. Nor would he yield.
‘How like an artist he is,’I thought
as I clumsily sought to unravel his secret.
The sky above our heads is like a shield,
great Laotzu said, against being dead.

I did not crush the spider’s web.
It would have been easy,
as easy as spinning a web made out of words
light as the song a spider dreams
in the spirit’s dungeon where he cannot help himself,
capering filament after filament
fondly into pattern and taut structure,
reeling it by the yard out of his soft belly the way,
sometimes, you take your own life
in your hands: out of the soft center and hard heart
of Nature, out of your own dark secret self.

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