By Marty Shutter
I Will Be Eating Spider Through the Fall
Yesterday, watching my fan chains sway in the rhythm of their master
centered in my room, the base anchored thirteen feet above, spinning
furiously on reverse, drawing in cooler outside air through the branches of my pines
into my home.
A sunflower seed sized spider comes down a chain to the point of my eyes, nearly a foot away.
He raises on his hind legs and shakes his head and set of eyes, sees me and turns
back up the chain.
I watch him reconfigure. I’ve interrupted his plan. Surprise.
He walks vertically back down to the tip of the dangling chain.
Something tells me he’s going to jump. And as I step back, he does.
Four inches to the next dangling chain, which hangs an epic four inches lower.
Later I will come to understand Bryan’s efficiency.
I watch him, and he never takes at least two or three eyes off of me.
He is planting himself to the tip of the dangling chain, working within and preparing for
the next part of his endeavor despite me, though aware that my presence will
require a retooling at each step. He toils on.
He is finished, and stops fidgeting. I can see him more clearly now.
Small, black and white v’s on his back. White, almost translucent legs
An impressive eye set and two small protrusions, either his fangs or last set of legs.
He leaps! into the air, into the room and
seven or eight inches from the chain, back, forth and back and forth again.
He wants to go all the way to the floor. The fan above is moving and he’ll never get to the ceiling.
I consider the tissue, plucking him from the air, walking him outside..
He runs back up his silk, onto the chain, and up to the lights of the fan,
he quickly, nimbly moves to the edge of a light and watches me.
I would let him out, into the world,
though his leap was exhilarating.
A self made bungee jump, in my living room.
He went as far as he could with me around.
Yesterday, sitting on my chair, in my living room,
Brian dropped down into my field of vision and
doing that classic spider bounce came to a swinging
stop right in front of me and back into my mind.
My wartime policy is no bugs in my home.
I let you out.
If you’re a wasp and you’re coming at me in my music room,
I will formulate a plan to at the very least stun you, or potentially
smash you beneath a Mexican Cook book to death.
I will, for your potential benefit, have a jar on hand to transport your
stunned near-corpse to the porch, if that gives you a sense of the mindset I approach
such intruders with.
So Bryan, dangling in front of me was
testing my boundaries. I believe he knew this.
I began to suspect that beneath the dangling fan
his food would be limited, and he, dying, knew this.
I looked up to the chains, Bryan was suspended to neither.
He was hanging in mid air, in the middle of my living room,
directly beneath the fan churning on high
causing him to sway slightly, but nothing outside of his plan,
with movement deft and confident.
I could not see his silk, but figured what he’d done.
He had come to the floor, walked to the wall, climbed it
anchored a tether there, tightened it, walked back to the
swaying chains and had begun his web there. And from
its structure, Bryan could bounce down into my life
to show his overnight progress, and determination
at fulfilling his plan.
I was still impressed by his jump from chain
to chain earlier.
Shoo! Bryan, I decided, and clapped loudly beneath him.
He retreated quickly up his string and at some point joined the main line
and went horizontally back to the chains and up to the light again.
Watching this feat, which seemed to tire him, for the string was a much
longer and uncertain climb than the chain, I was again impressed by his
efficiency, determination, confidence, and follow through. He rounded the
lip of the light under the fan and watched back to me.
I gently clapped in genuine applause and admiration and gestured this towards him.
He was probably mad, but reconfiguring anyways.
I watched him for another minute, and when his spirits were back,
he came around again from the base to the chain.
Running down it as I watched, wondering.
He reached the swaying tip and jumped again!
five inches swaying into the air of the room.
Look at me!
I went first for a napkin, then was struck with the idea of a jar.
I grabbed a cardboard coaster for a lid and went straight to Bryan and put the
jar beneath him,
up around him,
sealed him with the lid, breaking his string.
I walked him into the kitchen, and in the light of the
afternoon sun I could see him more clearly.
He immediately set to surveying his surroundings,
but was set doing so so often by the movement of the
jar about the room, he anchored himself on the side and
waited for me to stop.
I walked onto the sunny porch, and resting the jar on its side, on the corner of
the porch’s railing, a few feet across from the midpoint, and most
dense portion of my pines, I slid away the coaster and stood back.
I went inside, and closing my door to the crack, realized I could and
I leaned into my cracked door and waited watching.
Bryan, from chain, to string, to jar and now in a jar outside
He then confidently walked to the lip of the jar
and waited. He walked out and under the hanging,
iron bamboo tea-light holder which rises ceremoniously
above the corner of the porch, looking down into the vast
garden and vines.
At each level, the ironwork flattens out as if the bamboo
had been cut there
small iron leaves and vines twist up and over each other.
From its structure hangs a conical platform surrounded by
a glass lampshade. A tea-light sits at the base of this hanging,
Bryan went to the edge of the porch, a human fifteen feet up
The first pink Nasturtium bloomed amid a sea of green grass,
vines and tree branches, weeds, bushes and a small maple in
the corner. The yard was dewy from all the rain, and I felt a drop
on my shoulder, then my head and I knew it wasn’t blown
by wind from a tree.
I watched Bryan, on the edge, meditatively surveying the yard.
I expected him to jump from the edge, begin the work of sewing
up my yard and sit back complete as soon as possible.
Bryan walked back and looked at the pine needles for a minute.
He could certainly make the jump to them, but something
brought him back from the edge.
He climbed the base of the iron tea light holder
and up the first piece of bamboo to its little ledge.
He spidered onto the next branch of the piece and up
to its ledge, looking over at the tree.
He tried out an iron leaf
Another rain drop, and the phrase
“washed the spider out” came singing into my brain.
Brian climbed to the topmost part of the structure, looked around
and I’m not clear here. This is where I went inside. I saluted him,
and his sense of duty.
All this artwork done alone up in a loft somewhere.
Waiting for it to make him some money, get him some
food and a lady spider.
I only saw his body tired once,
but his spirit was a solid beam of light
undimmed by the physic.
He jumped, swung, climbed, designed, built, explored,
planned, reconfigured – all without pouting, biting me
giving up, disappearing, or getting killed by my fan or feet.
An hour or so later thunder broke the silence
followed by a wash from the sky.
I was inside, felt confident in
Bryan’s abilities, but was aware of the
“washed the spider out…”
I thought from his perspective, the best I could, figuring
in all I knew about him and the realities of rain.
I would hide in the cone of the lampshade.
It’s not a perfect seal, so it won’t fill up,
there’s the cover of the angled glass walls.
Ultimately, I’m not sure it, or anything available to him
is a ‘best’ option…
I let my dog out today,
and standing on the porch, feeling the cooling
air of fading summer, I remembered Bryan.
It had rained a lot. Loudly, and continuously
throughout the afternoon yesterday.
I took the swinging conical lampshade off its base
and put it on the porch rail.
Looking into it, I saw Bryan
dead, drowned in a burned out tea-light.
His body soggy was limp against the curve
of the candle holder.
His jump still exhilarated me.
I looked out at the yard I assumed he meant to
I will bury him there.
I have never cared for cemeteries,
detest our fetish of poorly
preserving our feeble and
proven temporary bodies,
and hold no arbitrary reverence
for such corpse.
Celebrate the ideals!
The ritual, rite,
and the benefit of the learned pause
as concentrated reflection upon
worthy values, inspiring character
and exemplary spirit.
Somewhere in there I decided it wasn’t enough to honor Bryan
by tucking him in the corner of my yard, a potential
dog shit target.
I looked at my lettuce, growing in a pot
next to where I often sit and think and read and eat and drink and smoke.
I walked into the house, put on a shirt, tucked it in and lit a candle.
I whistled Taps as I thought of each interaction I’d had with Bryan.
I decided he would be buried in the soil of my growing lettuce,
literally to become a part of me and therefore very powerfully his virtues by
association. I assume. It’s more authentic than the placebo.
I decided he need a name, and Bryan came first to mind.
I chose a spoon to dig the soil with, a spoon I had just
stirred my coffee with.
I folded it into the Arts section of Friday’s New York Times,
its cover a story about the rebirth of Rent.
I counted the steps to the porch, seven,
then to the lettuce, three,
I went into the yard and
picked the already withering Nasturtium,
and brought it up to the porch.
I plucked the lettuce, and piled it on a plate.
I spooned three inches into the soil and left the hole
I silently removed the conical glass lampshade, and the
poured out the water and spooned Bryan’s dead body into
the Pink flower.
I folded it three times and tucked it into the soil, placing the dirt and
more back on.
I patted it firmly down seven pats with the spoon,
knowing the freshly cropped lettuce will require more urgently the nutrients
of its soil…
I painted a lava rock shaped like an arrow blue and anchored it into the soil.
I have at least two more months of lettuce growing weather.
I sat down with my salad, ate, then wrote this for Bryan.