Latrodectus (Black Widow)

I gasped when I saw your body on the stucco wall

A small shock of terror

like when I saw a shark for the first time and suddenly became aware of things greater than myself

I wanted to know everything about you immediately

How you go days without breathing

How you bond yourself effortlessly to surfaces

How you play dead

Clever girl

What a trick that was

I thought I had killed you by accident

when I slipped the thin edge of a paper plate under your two longest legs

And you tumbled back

All eight limbs curling inward

Around your abdomen and

that terrible mark somebody scored there

and you don’t even know about it

The smart thing to do would have been to crush you against the rock

But I could not bear the weight of losing your spider shape in the universe as I see it

So I carried you to my garden

and pretended you could unknow me as I could unknow you

No stubby nails or wrinkled skin

No bulbous belly or ducts of venom

Just two great bodies touching briefly

as you unfolded the sharp points of your grace once again

to walk without urgency into my rose bushes

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