Swimming with Spider
Recluse in the pool does the backstroke,
eight appendages (which the arms, which legs?)
flailing for purchase on emptiness, air.
Coming up, I witness spasms so close
I could die before panicking in my place of serenity.
I feel no danger in the water, drift coolly in unconcern.
What to do when racing laps against a foe?
Look around, find no weapons—shoe, book,
can of hairspray, RAID—but clicking minor waves,
space, distance from wall & ladder.
I back away like a seal sunning its belly.
Eight tea-brown sticks vibrate like four tuning forks—
lulling, pleading, desperate.
Won’t turn my back until head bumps steel of step, &
then I’m up, out, ready to run from the spider
that stole my calm to carry to its chlorine grave.
It’s like taking color photos of black-&-white subjects.
It’s like playing poker
when hands you don’t bet make you tremble.
I enjoy concerts, dread the audience.
I go to museums to mock the Pollocks,
worry humorless guards eye me like a thief.
I want to eat, love, sing, be.
I want good times—
why are they so challenging?
All I savor—pizza, movies, kissing—
requires something from me
like placing an order or saying hello to strangers.