For Louise Bourgeois

By | 1 May 2020

In Charlotte’s Web, a pig
watches as a matriarch
wraps five hundred children
in silk.

In your gallery, each infant
has grown into its power
legs in bronze and steel
spread across the room.

We’ve been taught not to invite
this type of attention.

In the animated feature they’re
smaller than itsy bitsy, little semicolon specks
with extra legs.

The same man who wrote
those tiny spiders instructed
the world in the proper use
of commas, clauses, sentences.

Your sentence begins
with a steel limb, outstretched
towards the door. It grows
until it can’t be kept

How much space can we occupy?

The only time I’ve seen a spider close
its legs is when it dies—each limb
hinging in and folding.

I have learned
to crumple my body small.

You have found a way
to birth the descendants of another
world, some civilization where we
can be this grand.

When I was young, you built
an eight-legged monolith, its abdomen
and thorax ribbed with bronze, it towered
thirty feet above, guarding
thirty-two marble eggs.

When did our fear become so large?

I stood beneath that spread of legs
and looked up
like the diminutive nude
you once sketched
in charcoal instead of bronze.

Those enormous steely spindles
sheltered me

left enough visible sky
so that I could remain

(If this is what motherhood is like
then perhaps I could stomach
a child.)

When your spider died
you threw yourself into the river
and survived.

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