Washed Out


I step into the stall,
turn the knob to hot,
head down before the water.

I observe my barren belly,
and the mole
I should remove

when a spider
crawls, then falls
into the soap.

She must have thought
this a fertile corner
to hatch her hundred babies–

she could not know there is
no sustenance here, or that
gleeful toddlers mock her drowning.

One self-possessed leg searching,
she casts an unrequited thread
but the unborn brood bears her down–

I could fish her out with a tissue,
save her to hope to hobble
into the mouth of a snake but

I dip my toe into the wake
to help her down the drain and say
They were just going to eat you, anyway.


– Teresa Kiplinger


-----------------------------------------------------


I wrote this after an encounter with a spider in the shower. At the time, I had been thinking a lot about the paths I have chosen in life, and how those decisions left me childless. Well into mid-life, I remain ambivalent about never having had my own children; the thought sometimes prompts a pang of regret which I do not allow to grow.

⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
In reality, I did not discover the spider until she was mostly drowned. I pushed her to a dry spot with a tissue, assuming she would recover and retreat to her web. The next day, I found she had died where I left her. The addition of the spider's egg sac was an embellishment to suggest her unrealised babies pulling her under like a stone. And my "merciful" gesture of helping her drown to avoid being eaten by her offspring speaks to my election to avoid the sacrifices of motherhood.



Leave a comment


Please note, comments must be approved before they are published