The Web

I have never seen a whole
one until now. Not
one broken line, connections
flawless. Unfrayed.
From this angle,
below the hedge
that borders
the neighbors’ plot,
looking towards
the upslope of my ordinary
driveway, where the border
orients my sight
to the right, sunlight
makes the spinning
visible, light leaning
on one line, then
another, shining the
connection between
the elements
until the filament
moves just
a bit, until all
of the strands shine
visible, each,
in turn, more visible, until
the last moves
more than you
think it could
in an actual wind
and makes
the whole web
move, though you do
not need such
assurance, such
a view, to be reminded
that the web has
indeed been fashioned
and spread across the hedge
since the maker, her mottled
abdomen splendid
as a ceramic intended
to be beautiful for daily use,
the maker situated
the middle,
extends her legs and arms
to say I made this. But seen,
or rather, not
exactly seen,
from the other angle,
from the top
of the poured
asphalt whose fierce
downslope
makes the emergency
brake feel
insufficient for
the car you park
with it, the same web
suspended between
the hedge
and an offshoot
of the hedge, from this
vantage closer
to the street, here,
only by the maker
can her web be seen,
her body just
as visible, her health
thrown into relief
by the invisibility of her work.
I wanted to see
from both sides what
she spun last night
before she ate. She is not
going anywhere
if she can help it.
I am trying to put
the baby in the car.
The baby goes to play
as I go to work.
There has only ever
been enough space
to open the door
and get barely in.
Do I try to not
disturb the maker
from the angle
where I can see
her and what she
has made, opening
the car door gingerly
and moving
around its side with
Emily who certainly
will resist the stillness
such a task asks
of her, with what I am trying
not to destroy
all the time visible?
Or do I walk around
the side of the car
and open the door
intuitively,
the way I do every
morning, towards
me, without being
able to see
the spider or her web?
Let us preserve all we can.
Desire brings the baby
and the spider
together, it’s like a house
that’s crowded
but not ever full.
I remember tension
in the web, the focused
light, the way the spider
sat on top
of what she ate
pairing one art with
a darker art,
killing exactly what
you need to live,
no more than that.
Sorry for your
trouble, the Irish
say to each other when
death comes in.
The wake’s a party. Everyone
shows up. I do not drink
towards anger, I apologize.
I look. I see I haven’t
wrecked her.
I buckle my daughter. Life
is very long
these mornings, very
short at night. The spider
had time. She used
materials. If she’s still
here when I return
I’ll praise her.

Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson is the author of four collections of poetry, including A Piece of Good News. Her fifth book, a fable in lyric prose, Life in a Field, will be published by Omnidawn in 2021. Her edition of the New Selected Poems of Robert Lowell came out in 2017. She directs the MFA program in Creative Writing at UC Davis where she is also a Chancellor's Fellow.
Katie Peterson

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Author: Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson is the author of four collections of poetry, including A Piece of Good News. Her fifth book, a fable in lyric prose, Life in a Field, will be published by Omnidawn in 2021. Her edition of the New Selected Poems of Robert Lowell came out in 2017. She directs the MFA program in Creative Writing at UC Davis where she is also a Chancellor's Fellow.