“A Fragile Connection”

I’m trying to get back into the habit of writing. So today I turned to The Pocket Muse and just opened a page. Skimmed past a few more because they were about buying books. I have too many books (gasp) because I am not necessarily taking the time to read them like I should.

Several pages in, I find the topic: write about a fragile connection.

And immediately, I think about the spider webs on my school’s third floor, north facing windows.

The photocopiers are tucked into alcoves at the hallways’ ends, pushed up against these northern facing windows. My classroom is just beside these alcoves, and with the fatigue and ennui created by virtual education and Covid education, I prefer to do less with technology and more with paper. So, yes, I am photocopying more.

I like to stand at the windows and examine the spiders, thick, fat spiders with oval shaped bodies and long, scritchy black legs. Their dun brown bodies look like swollen, plastic beads with a faint black spiny feather painted down the center. Because they face the sky and face away from the window, I more frequently see the intermingling of their jointed, segmented legs, how in perfect synchronicity they legs arch and drag away from and toward one another. In the mornings, especially during winter, the spiders will frequently tuck themselves into their nests, thick swaddles of gray, sullied threads with a cavern. They back in to the nests, linger their bodies into the hammocks and spindle their legs in front of them.

I used to be terrified of spiders. I am still not one to love anything larger than these half-dime sized creatures. I can view them through the thick glass windows, secure that they will not meld through the glass and inhabit my world. I am not appreciative when they encroach on my existence. When their thick, hairy bodies are in my sink (happened when I was a girl) or their shiny black bellies with the blood red hourglass are under the rocks in my children’s play area. Nope. Don’t like those at all.

But through the window, I can admire their symmetrical artistry. How the pegged joints of the octet of their legs slip and shift them about the ever expanding web. How they can shimmy along filaments almost invisible in the sunlight to build another wall or capture a winged insect unlunky enough to be blown into the web. For why would anything winged be up three stories and far from the dandelion freckled grass at least forty feet below?

These spiders live in such a fragile world. How their tiny mouths and eight eyes embedded on a small head are connected by gravity and God’s grace to the edge of their head. How their legs, with no real visible tendons or soft tissue shift in perfect synchronicity to edge them along silken, sticky strands. I marvel at how they exist, no live, in such a temporary world. Metal beams encasing windows where a sharp gust of wind would seem to shred the web.

And yet they exist. Reproduce. For early in the school year, I watched the thick eggs sacks take up residence in the windows’ corners. And then, the freckled specks of baby spiders swimming around the window paned world. Take up the place where their mothers once lived to spin more filamented galaxies. Eat small winged insects. And drift through days in gray silken nests spun along the windows’ edges.

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