The Lake Spider Poem Written By Ruby Harrison Jan 2010

The Lake Spider Poem Written By Ruby Harrison Jan 2010

The Lake Spider Poem

Each cold wave was starting to slap
me in the face and the grayness of morning
wasn’t lifting as the sun rose. Goosebumps

had made my legs slim sharks, heavy and rough,
so I swam to shore spitting out icy water.
I was thinking about coffee,

maybe crawling into my sleeping bag
and listening to loons’ far-off howls
until breakfast, and I reached the splintery dock

when I choked –
tried to struggle backward, without any splash
which might wash her in with me.

Dock spiders swim. Did you know?
They fasten long ropes of silk and dive
for their prey, something big since no horsefly

sustains a spider the size of a mouse.
This one was monstrous, motionless,
spiky black legs jointed white at her knees,

face-level to my wet bobbing head. She gripped
an egg sac, papery and white, marble-sized.
It held hundreds of tiny hers. It looked heavy.

I had come to her panting but now the water
or inertia maybe pushed my face close
to that enormous silent mother so I fought harder

to stay away, though if the lake had been still
I might have treaded at a distance, stared hard,
dared her to scuttle and disappear in the cracks

in the plywood-patched dock with its rotting ladder
and a dozen more spiders, probably,
white sacs strapped firmly to their bellies.

I flopped like I’d hooked a lip, gasping, desperate
for rough open water where depth
would deter any diving hairy creature.

Somehow I struggled to remoter shoreline
where I slid over boulders’ upholstery of algae,
shivering, legs frog-splayed, stringent and numb.

I never felt it when I scratched my legs crashing
through buckthorn, the way to the cabin, though I saw
the lines later when I put on soft clothing

in a warm inside corner where spiders are smaller
and at least have the kindness
to keep out of sight.

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