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 would 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 without children. 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.

Though the poem suggests I washed the spider down the drain, in reality, 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. 

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