Runner-Up for the 2023 Grierson Verse Prize
This one begins and ends in death.
You wonder why you are so afraid of spiders, but I think it has to do with watching your brother trap daddy-long legs under a magnifying glass, letting the sun press it’s heavy thumb and then pulling their legs off one by one until just the little ball bounced. And then the little ball did nothing. My greatest act of love lies in the removal of arachnids from behind our couch, passed down by your mother, beside the fruit bowl inhabited by flies, or half-way up the lamp shade. It is for the love of them and for my love of you that I, who am also afraid of spiders, bruise my knees to climb the counter to reach the glass jar reserved for spiders, find the envelopes or brochures of a particular thickness that we keep for this specific occasion. One that is not too thick as to not slip under the jar and not thin enough to waver, leaving just the right amount of space for the spider to drop to the floor, or worse, fall into my hand. It is for the love of them and my love of you that I lower the jar over the creature, slide the paper gently underneath it’s surprised belly, and carry it into the garden where I know it will likely just come back. Because that’s what silly little creatures do. Silly little creatures come back. Silly little creatures come back again and again where they are not wanted. Silly little creatures do not get the message. Silly little creatures crawl their way back on hands and knees. Silly little creatures want to escape the cold, to be welcomed in, to feel the warmth of a shag carpet, to laze around in a hammock, to be an unwelcome addition in a bed, to kiss a man who was never theirs, to kill themselves slowly trying to make a home where they are not wanted. It is for the love of it and for the love of me that
this time I play God
and watch all eight legs buckle
we all need to learn