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Judith Vollmer

By This Poet


House Spiders

Streetlights out again I'm walking in the dark
lugging groceries up the steps to the porch
whose yellow bulb is about to go too, when a single 
familiar strand intersects my face,
the filament slides across my glasses which seem suddenly
perfectly clean, fresh, and my whole tired day slows down
                   walking into such a giant thread
is a surprise every time,
though I never kill them, I carry them outside
on plastic lids or open books, they live
so plainly and eat the mosquitoes.
                Distant cousins
to the scorpion, mine are pale & small,
dark & discreet. More like the one
who lived in the corner of the old farm kitchen
under the ivy vase and behind the single
candle-pot--black with curved
crotchety legs.
     Maya, weaver of illusions,
     how is it we trust the web, the nest,
     the roof over our heads, we trust the stars
     our guardians who gave us our alphabet?
     We trust the turtle's shell because
     it, too, says house and how can we read
     the footprints of birds on shoreline sand,
     & October twigs that fall to the ground
     in patterns that match the shell & stars?
I feel less and less like
a single self, more like
a weaver, myself, spelling out
formulae from what's given
and from words.

For Aaron Sheon

"Tiny hatches, if you make enough of them, make

an entire etching move," you told us while we smoked

in the lit cave of your Tuesday 1-2:15. We scratched

our pens: dance & film posters, flyers to end the war. 

In our famous jeans we slouched before your podium & slides weaving

the movements & the solo trips.

"He was lonely." "She had no patron."

"Scale extends us & reins us in," you said of the strange Piranesis.

"Find the heart of a city by stepping in."

My alleys & arcades pressed onto the copperplate of my 20-year-old brain

fusing its hemispheres. I hitched to Colmar and found

the Isenheim Altarpiece, figures on the old panels aflame, then turned

my back on all religions because you'd shown us Goya's firing squad

& Daumier's gutters where people looked for water.

"Movement in a painting is important as Dante."

 I've looked for Dante's houses, cafés, notebooks, & horse-stalls, & someone

always says Oh, you mean The Poet.
"The body doesn't make sense by itself," you said, pointing the red-tip

wand at the chalky nudes of Ingres. If I am lonely

in any town whose museum

treasures its one Whistler or Bonnard, I stand before the image

hear your voice; my eyes

un-scroll, I lift 

again like a hinge.