Brown Recluse Obsession, by Ed Coletti
Pinned to white drenched shower tile
tiny umber spider flailing.
Bather, sodden naked exits
offering a paper towel bridge
along which his new friend scampers
to be transported to trash basket
escape from whirlpool certainty.
Drying rescuer not as brave
as he seems, motives mostly fear,
first, were he to abandon his vow
never again to kill a spider,
karma would suffer since spiders
trap and eat ants, which he cannot abide,
flies either, the sole exceptions
to his no-kill spiritual policy.
Second, that his little spider chum
might, just might, be the much-dreaded
Brown Recluse whose bite has been known
to inflict horrific damage
Frank watches tiny drying spider
excavate deeply to explore
wicker basket, cross cotton swabs,
discarded razors, slip under
Kleenex, over bar soap corpses.
Vanish: Has spider left basket?
What goal? Too far from family.
How do spiders communicate distress? —
Brown Recluse is said to bite humans.
Of twenty-thousand spider breeds, only
four bite humans. The Brown Recluse does.
Also the Black Widow, Hobo, and
Yellow Sac Spider: all formidable
enough they deserve my use of Caps.
Of these four, the Brown Recluse alone
snares imagination since, as I recall,
it’s bite brings a form of leprosy
or terrible flesh-eating disease.
The Brown Recluse is rumored
to be in California but
sightings here, especially in
showers are proving to be false ones —
Now clean, Frank, obsessively, can’t help
wondering what if this one were
the first bona fide shower-loving
Brown Recluse spider to find it’s way
to Northern California
where it now struggles or languishes
in bathroom trash or has made good
it’s escape into a misguided
vengeful journey to bite Anne
whose mate Frank had acted so nobly?
Is he now, by virtue alone,
responsible for his wife’s corrosion?
How could he live with her rotting flesh?
Has he turned complicit assassin,
Anne the creature he had most loved?
And all from the karmic net with which this
small creepy arachnid took him in.
Ed Coletti studied under Robert Creeley in San Francisco (1970-71). Recent poems appear in The Brooklyn Rail, North American Review, Spillway, Big Bridge, and Kentucky Review. Most recent poetry collection The Problem With Breathing(Edwin Smith Publishing –Little Rock- 2015).