Short story from Claire Bateman

The Perforating Spider   

To what degree we should fear her we can’t know, but we extol her labor which is eleventy-seven percent more exacting than that of her arthropod relatives since she has thirteen feet (five more than the standard setup)–if you look closely, you might glimpse the flickering of their stochastic puncture-patterns on the moving spider map of the universe known also as the interdimensional network of negative space.

Nor can we discern whether she achieved her position or it was primordially imposed on her—is she an angel, perhaps a lesser god?

We do know that these feet are named respectively 1 absence 2 anomaly 3 discontinuity 4 the specious present  5 ellipsis 6 antithesis 7 stealth 8 the fugue-state  9 the lost sea 10 the anti-tonic 11 the oblique gravitational force 12 polysemy 13 cipher.  Note also her wing-buds, infolded, either prophecy or vestigial legacy of aerial predation.

Of course, she must be infinitesimal to cover so much territory all at once; thanks to her choreographic exploits, we don’t have to suffer a world with no gaps, no fissures, no micro-spaces in which to turn, then turn again.

Where would we be without the stutter in the testimony, the digital glitch,  the dropped call, the snapped string in the middle measure as the dancers pause to reconsider their partner choice?

And consider the sun, our sole domestic hearth in the sidereal universe—without the perforating spider’s footwork there’d be no absence in its core for hydrogen atoms to flow into toward fusion, no coronal holes forming and reforming for solar particles to slip through.

Even more locally, consider hair—without her, each of our heads would be burdened by a single solid clump non-navigable by breeze or comb or reconnoitering fingers—no strands, no braids, no weaves, no waves, in just the same way as thought in the brain would seize, a frozen mass without interstices for passage and transformation.

Prior to her: that ur-time when music constituted one indigestible monster entity. Then in she stepped, and up sprang the rests, the intervals, so each note could recognize itself as itself, discrete.

Thus we count on her for hesitation, indecision, the lapse where intention slackens and the soul quakes because eventually, everything that can happen will happen, though not necessarily to you.

Were we to beg her for advice on how to bear the sensation of existence (so massive and bursting, so delicate and light), if she cared to reply (which she decidedly would not), she’d advise us in her arcane alphabet comprised of nothing but holes—a kind of inverse Braille—to move even deeper into the configuring darkness, the constellary wound where it’s always grief o’clock,  indigo o’clock, history o’clock, collapse o’clock.  If we didn’t live here, we’d undoubtedly long for it.

Claire Bateman’s books include SCAPE (New Issues Poetry & Prose); LOCALS (Serving House Books), THE BICYCLE SLOW RACE (Wesleyan University Press), FRICTION (Eighth Mountain Poetry Prize), AT THE FUNERAL OF THE ETHER (Ninety-Six Press, Furman University), CLUMSY (New Issues Poetry & Prose), LEAP (New Issues), and CORONOLOGY (Etruscan Press). She has been awarded Individual Artist Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the Surdna Foundation, as well as two Pushcart Prizes and the New Millennium Writings 40th Anniversary Poetry Prize. She has taught at Clemson University, the Greenville Fine Arts Center, and various workshops and conferences. She lives in Greenville, SC.

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