The Spider

Didi Jackson

Because it is spring yet has snowed nonstop for two days,
and because the room is warmed
from the baseboard heaters and the gas fireplace,
and because it is a wet snow that pools in the ruts
of our driveway and at the sills of our windows,
a large brown house spider decides to cross our living room,
each of its legs lifting singularly like a tiny torture,
fierce as a Bourgeois sculpture, who was
eighty when she began her dark decent
into the shell, egg, leg, and abdomen of the arachnid.
I place a glass to catch the spider
before it vanishes under the ottoman; domed
it panics. As I do each night,
I light a candle for the dead,
but not for the spider’s death. I am seasoned at slipping
paper under glass like a new white forest
and releasing it outside. Bourgeois believed
the spider was a symbol for her mother: deliberate,
clever, patient, dainty. I heard it is bad luck
to kill a spider inside the house; so since a child
I have released and released no matter the species.
Only if a spider fights its new glass walls
would it remind me of my own mother.
How many hide within our knitted walls
and would I save them all?


Didi Jackson's collection of poems, Moon Jar, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press (2020). Her poems have appeared most recently in The New Yorker, The New England Review, and Ploughshares. Currently, she teaches creative writing at the University of Vermont.