Wednesday, September 8

spider sex

across the windowpane
at the end of the hall
an orb spider has spread her web

last night it was a perfection marred
only by small doomed bugs thrashing
tonight she is gone and the web is empty,
ominously unstrung

until molly looks in another corner of
the window and sees three shapes moving
one is our fat-bodied spider
dangling from a thick rope of web
the others are smaller, faster-seeming
more sinister in their arachniform twitching

hands and faces close to the glass
we stand peering into the holes our shadows
make in its reflection
and watch as one small spider
repeatedly approaches the larger
legs flailing, draws closer and closer only
to be flung - or leap? - inches across the window
faster than our eyes can follow

(the other seems to hang back, waiting for some
opportunity)

this has the weird patterning of something inevitable,
a function of the little mechanism that is a spider
it's almost programmed,
is like small birds opening their mouths
when a shadow appears over the nest
or leaves turning to follow the sun
is like the negotiation of some protocol
for passing sealed messages between hostile courts
or signals across a noisy wire
and yet, the logic of evolution
suggests that between

these 16 legs engaged
in what first looked like predation, then sex
(and likely partakes of both)
and the choreography of human love
there must be some connection
perhaps distant, but inescapably real:
inescapably difficult to reconcile with what
we would like to believe

we have been taught to fear determinism and
the understanding of our lives as simple processes:
we must be more than
branching conditional statements
expressed as a physical frame:
we have been taught that we should know ourselves
as fearfully and wonderfully made
golden threads of possibility running
through the stone matrix of reality
fluid unpredictably, ultimately the expression of
the susceptibility of god and all
the work of his hands
to hope

surely then, that which grows and holds
between children and parents, comrades, friends and lovers
must somehow be more than variations on a theme
that equally contains the flickering automatic
interaction of spiders —
some kind of sterile madness
seems to lie that way,
comedic or tragic
in equal proportion to the scale
on which it is believed

and yet what is this fear
to the experience of love?
subjectivity, just so long
as its memory does not fade or break
denies or renders fear irrelevant
— and may leave us free
to see ourselves and wonder

we could admit
that human love is never pure
if it is real
never an abstraction
there is always something
to drive and conduct its ordered pulses
heat, food, sex, memory
two people in some room
silence and something
pulls through the
intervening space
like gravity or a zone of lower pressure
begging for release in collapse

how unlike the unthought need to spin or
hang waiting in moonlight or
grapple with an intruder, a mate,
are the things we feel
between one another?

(and even so, these startful
small manylegged things
with their ancient shape
burned as a warning somewhere
deep inside the mechanisms of
our own involuntary motions
— their dance or combat or
courtship is something more
or other
than a static routine running in an
endless loop on the circuitry
of the universe

whatever life is, we can recognize
that there is life here
however alien its aspect)

direction as well as magnitude

we are all of us the sum
of our longings

and our longings are best
expressed not as scalar quantities,
but as vectors

like arrows on a gridded page
(momentum or acceleration)
need and hope and want
hunger thirst and lust.

a bright shape stretches, twists
hurls itself against these walls
(these boundaries and markers)
thrashes, turns from side to side
quivers and holds expectant still
waiting for action
impatient leaps away from us
and dances back calling
follow!

this is your soul
the nervous twitching beast
that lives in your stomach,
darts about your chest,
pulls on your fingers and toes
whispers wild goose madness in your ears

let's go!
get going
gone!