Common Midwestern Spiders

We have the bodies we have.

Mine is seven decades old with heavy,
unused breasts and the belly of my mother
though it folds over three Caesarean scars.

The rest of me is scrawny and mostly wrinkled.
My skin is thin. Bruises bloom at the slightest
bump. Would my boundaries become tough
as elephant hide or the bark of an oak.

The large black spider on the ceiling
where I was a guest last night may
have been a Widow, though her markings,
according to photos on the internet,
resembled more the pale hat of the Eastern
Parson, not the red hourglass of Time.

I feared her only because she was too fast
to catch and release. When she fell,
she scurried under the dresser.  

By now wide awake, I read that
even the feared Widow will try to flee
rather than attack, like any small creature
with common sense when confronted
by a larger one. Or they curl up and
play dead. Only as a last resort will
Widows bite and even then, reported
fatalities are usually fake news.

Indeed, if she was a Black Lace-Weaver,
the tables will be turned as she will become
the victim of her many hatchlings, whom
she will actively encourage to devour her.
There’s a video.

Last night I wanted to drape a cloth
over my host’s full-length bathroom
mirror, but this morning is another day.

I have the body that I now have.
So does last night’s spider with her
large, fertile abdomen, which may soon,
depending on who she really is,
become the death of her.

Kathleen Dale.png

Kathleen A. Dale's works include her 2019 memoir—Offerings: The Decluttering of a Life— in addition to one full-length book of poetry and three chapbooks. The recipients of numerous awards, her poems have appeared in over thirty journals.