She has never feared spiders
but the female slipping
down a slice of web
in the shower
Not the sting of venom,
not the eight legs crawling her wet breast
but the not knowing
how to help.
What do I do?
The uncertainty strands her at the far end of the tub.
How to save this mother
babies riding in her belly
or on her back.
The wet woman
can’t be sure without her glasses,
but instinct tells her this skydiver is a mother
and there are children involved.
She holds out a razor,
an instrument of purchase
for the eight waving legs
(surely they are waving,
but the spider refuses,
swings like an acrobat
out and back
coming to rest on the towel bar.
Shaving her twin legs after the rescue-
she watches her own blood
catch in the drain’s lip
lose its color
until it is nothing more than shower water,
the shin-skin she nicked
as dead as the cells she shed
beneath her ring finger
all those years.
On Keeping the Good Guys Out, Followed By How the Bad Guys Got In In the First Place
You’d think it would be like looking in a mirror
Wonder Woman at my front door,
her blue eyes staring into my own twin skies.
In the space of five inches—the safety of the door frame
and the golden chain—I see we were not separated
at birth but born a generation apart.
She has come with a superhero casserole,
hot food being the key that unlocks
most doors, chained, bolted or padlocked.
Kicking off her golden boots, Wonder Woman tells me
why my marriage failed
why my floors are always filthy
why now, a woman on my own,
the house is rebelling.
Using her cape as an apron,
Wonder Woman spoons hot cheese
and noodles on two plates from the good china,
the china that’s never been used,
dust from the wedding making new patterns
on the spring flower border.
Between bites, Wonder Woman tells me why
my forks are disappearing
why the light bulbs keep blowing,
why the bathtub leaks into the basement
how the mold on the window sills
spells my name as it grows.
Wonder Woman squeezes my shoulder with soapy hands
as she washes the dishes,
points to the lasso hanging from her waist.
I realize I forgot to tell her about my super power—
how I read lips
from across a room
how I lost the instructions
how I understand nothing
when it is right in front of me.
The Princess Loses Her Pea
That woman tied to a chair
cannot see her wings.
She was once her own king
and queen, until the ruler’s ruler
ruled she was no longer a subject
but the still-life. Punishment—
the paint brushes with bristles severed
easels with screws loosened
canvases shorn in jigsaw pieces.
Even the windows mock her,
their black mold forming messages
in a foreign tongue. This kingdom
once a utopia of free kisses, roofs
of mouths wide like caves
open for exploring.
What unusual luck, the blacksmith come
to shoe her horse: the mare dead,
his sharpened awl sliding perfectly inside
the heart of her throbbing knot.
I am the Magician’s Assistant
I fasten the chains around his neck
wind them in a slow dance down his body—
steel girder wrapped in silver—
secure the final link to a bolt in the floor,
step away with the key
tucked in my sequined hollow.
I am the magician’s wet nurse.
I wipe the tears as he mourns his illusion
unfasten the chains when he discovers
he is indeed impotent
not magic but fallible—
mortal as your run of the mill businessman
locked out of his own home again.
I am the star of the show.
My pale hands wave like moth wings
in and around the magician’s black caped torso
reminding the audience
this man is a mystery
a landscape too dark to navigate.