“The Orb Weaver” by Thomas Carrigan

Thomas Carrigan


It is still warm enough to leave the kitchen windows
cracked open, but cold at night so the squash vine
that sprouted untamed from the compost begins
to shrivel and the webs where the window hinges
against the frame appear to sag and if that gray
crumb is a spider it is profoundly asleep and nothing
like the ones that Vernon Lee found suspended
in the head-high weeds wobbling like fleshy yolks
with ink-splotch markings, balanced on slender
legs, one side of the body a mirror of the other so
baroque in its beauty he was moved to refold
for the hundredth time the page from the nudist
magazine and return it to his pocket in exchange
for the kitchen matches and gather brown leaves
and twigs as improvised torches to plunge into
the trapeze of silver strands and instantly
shrink and melt the plumpness of the body
to dark liquid. Who could have been surprised
to learn by letter what he had done to himself
alone in an upstairs room a continent away
that still felt like just next door and when I
closed my eyes as they spoke about the linens
and the walls and how that said just about everything
I saw a web, quivering like a wind or something
sudden was rising towards it, and it was strung
to another one and another one and another.

from Rattle #50, Winter 2015


Thomas Carrigan: “I was working in a college library, and helped an undocumented Chinese student who was reading American novels written in dialect with a dictionary in one hand. It seemed impossibly daunting. He shared some of his favorite Chinese writers, especially Shu Ting, one of the Misty Poets. For a period of weeks we discussed one poem over beers going back and forth with the language and fashioning a translation. Never had the process of writing come to life for me with such urgency.” (web)

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